Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and Ald. James Vos celebrated the launch of the new Philippi Agrihub together with representatives from the City’s Economic Growth departments (Urban Catalytic Investment; Area Economic Development; Property), Provincial Government, Department of Agriculture, and other guests.
Since 2018, a great deal of effort and expense by National Treasury, the City of Cape Town and the Philippi Economic Development Initiative (PEDI) have gone into re-configuring and upgrading the Philippi Fresh Produce Market into a fully fledged agri-hub with the facilities to develop, support and grow the small scale and emerging farmers of the Cape Flats and to connect them to fresh produce buyers.
Today, the Philippi Agrihub offers a large variety of vegetables, herbs and indigenous produce supplied by over a hundred small scale farmers who are trained to cultivate vegetables through natural farming methods. The farmers benefit from access to a wider market and better prices that help ensure their sustainability; and their fresh produce is either sold whole, or as value-added produce that provides consumers and the food service sector with ready-to-cook vegetables.
Cape Town Mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis, said, “There are very few things in government that have the power to both offer possibilities for economic growth on one hand and help safeguard liveability, sustainability and resilience on the other. Urban green space is one of these rare things. The Philippi Agri-Hub is a shining example of how urban green space can be put to use in helping to alleviate poverty through jobs, and contributing to food security and resilience in the face of climate change.”
The unique opportunity that the Agrihub presents for the growing community of small scale and emerging farmers was also emphasized by the various speakers at the launch. Daryl Jacobs, DDG of the WC Department of Agriculture, committed his department’s support to the venture; and Mary-Ann Parr of U Can Grow Africa reported on progress in creating a database of over 1000 small scale farmers within a 150km radius of Philippi and the importance of having a dedicated hub to promote fresh produce marketing and sales.
Thomas Swana, CEO of PEDI, spoke to the history of the market which was developed for this purpose 17 years ago, but which had never operated as intended until PEDI’s intervention 4 years ago that established various business components, such as the Philippi Urban Agriculture Academy; the agri-processing and value-adding services; a composting operation that converts organic food waste into organic compost; and the establishment of a self-sustainable market for both small scale farmers and buyers in the vicinity of the Cape Flats. He also announced that the Agrihub will start to supply retail giant Shoprite with fresh produce.
Included in the audience were formal and informal business owners, Ward Councillors for Subcouncil 12, 13 and 17, and members of the Ward Development Forum in Philippi, who have all contributed to the establishment and opening of the Agrihub that will benefit the Philippi economy.
Thomas Swana closed the speeches with a rousing three cheers as a vote of thanks for the opening of the Philippi Agrihub.