The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the North West has officially started building the Taung Agro-Hub, which will enable fruit and vegetable producers to gain better access to markets in a more sustainable way.
A sod-turning ceremony for the first of its kind facility in the province was held on Monday at the construction site, which is situated at Taung Agricultural College.
The cost for the construction of the Agro-Hub will be approximately R10 million. Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Desbo Mohono, who turned the sod to mark the commencement of the construction works, said the support provided to smallholder farmers gives them a better opportunity to showcase their potential in contributing towards growing the thriving agricultural sector and making the country more food secure.
“This hub will create market opportunities for locally-grown agricultural products, especially fruit and vegetables. It will foster the province’s economic growth and increase job creation, while ensuring that fresh and healthy produce is available for the communities,” said MEC Mohono.
Zamane Sokhupha, of Dirisanang Food Plot in Dryharts village — who is also the chairperson of the Taung Agro-Hub — said as farmers, they applaud the work being done by the department, which they regard as beneficial to farmers and consumers alike.
“Farmers are always looking for good opportunities to sell their products, and this development is … great for agriculture in the Taung area,” he said.
It is expected that the Taung Agro-Hub project will offer smallholder farmers in the area the advantage to share fresh produce market infrastructure and transport, resulting in positive economies of scale.
The facility will allow farmers to centrally bring in their produce to the hub. The produce will be subjected to cleaning, sorting, grading, packaging and labelling processes, before it can found compliant with food safety standard.
The construction work, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the current financial year, will incorporate handling and processing facilities, such as cooling services, processing equipment and loading facilities.
MEC Mohono said the establishment of the hub is a means for the department to contribute towards the stimulation of economic activities around the Taung area.