The Philippi area of Cape Town boasts a unique and distinctive landscape, encompassing one of the last remaining agricultural zones in the Cape Town metropolitan area.
Agriculture is a key sector of the Philippi economy. The area has a long history as a major supplier of food for the City of Cape Town but large portions of the farming land is under utilised. This offers a unique opportunity for job creation and skills development, not only in direct farming, but also, and especially, in the associated agroprocessing opportunities that the adjacent Philippi light industrial area can accommodate.
Philippi Horticultural Area – the PHA
The Philippi Horticultural Area is a 3,600 hectare green belt described colloquially as the “vegetable pantry” of Cape Town. It produces more than half of all the vegetables consumed in the city every day – over 100 000 tons a year – and this despite being only one third under crop.
It has very high value soils which are uniquely suited to vegetable production, with access to the excellent water of the Cape Flats Aquifer which lies under the land and a moderate climate. The combination of these factors allows a production cycle that can see three to four crop cycles a year – unheard of in most agricultural areas in the world.
The area faces several threats: illegal dumping; land invasions; non-agricultural land uses such as motor mechanic and transport businesses which are degrading the soil quality and a belief that has arisen following applications for housing development of the land that the pressure for housing in the city means that this land is earmarked for urban development. This has led to “land banking” where non-farmers buy speculatively and do not farm, or where farmers have given up farming in anticipation of being able to sell.
PEDI believes the preservation of land in the PHA for agriculture is a critical element of the economic future of the greater Philippi area, and of the city more widely. Securing this valuable rural pocket within the metropole will be key in ensuring the future food and water security of the City of Cape Town. PEDI shares the vision of a vibrant, viable, productive PHA and is actively engaging with stakeholders to secure its future, retain existing jobs and find innovative ways to increase job creation through urban agriculture.
The Philippi Horticultural Area
PEDI Tunnel Farm
A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between PEDI and the Dhladhla Foundation (the implementing agency for government’s Community Works Programme) for a Tunnel farm project in Philippi. Already 11 tunnels have been erected which PEDI hopes to use as a starting point for a PEDI Farming Academy.
Dhladhla Foundation has the Community Work Programme’s database of work seekers, including some 2000 who are from Philippi. CWP is able to allocate funding for 300 beneficiaries at a time. It is hoped that candidates for farming training can be drawn from this. Compost from the Waste2Food project can be used in the Tunnel Farming project.
The Tunnel Farm Project
A study conducted for PEDI by Demacon Market Surveys found that the most valuable land in Philippi is the agricultural land, and that the opportunities presented for manufacturing and processing businesses associated with the agricultural value chain were high, especially in light of available light industrial land near to the farming land. PEDI is particularly keen to promote the area for this purpose as the Airports Company of South Africa begins looking at support industries which will support its expanding needs.
The realignment of the runway at CT International Airport will enable bigger cargo planes to land and PEDI believes Philippi is well positioned as a neighbouring district to provide an ideal location for warehousing, agroprocessing and other support industries.
The Philippi Fresh Produce Market
PFPM was built by the City of Cape Town at a cost of R25 million and opened in 2006 with the specific goal of offering a convenient, well-run facility that could provide training to around 2 500 emerging farmers for the Western Cape.
To date only a few have been trained and the market is not yet fully operational. Many local farmers continue to sell through through the Epping Market or directly to retailers locally. PEDI believes that there is great potential for the market as part of an agrobusiness value chain. In part, more recently, the market has suffered with the uncertainty over the PHA’s future, but it has also proved to be an option that small-scale farmers with low margins have struggled to afford and they have generally sought alternative outlets.
The market is operated by the Philippi Market Operating Company. PEDI hopes that a new focus on Philippi will improve the viability of the market.
More Sectors in Philippi