In the realm of addressing hunger and food waste, partnerships play a pivotal role in effecting change and driving impact. They can evolve over time, transforming from initial collaborations into impactful, solutions-driven initiatives grounded in mutual respect and a shared vision.
At its core, SA Harvest is on a mission to end hunger in South Africa. Since its inception in October 2019, the organisation has delivered 47,1 million meals and rescued 14,2 million kilograms of food from going to waste.
Its commitment to this mission has been unwavering, and it has achieved remarkable milestones along the way through its unique business model built on the pillars of food rescue and systemic intervention, underpinned by a bespoke technology platform.
Accelerating farmer growth
OneFarm Share is an integrated impact platform facilitated through a partnership between Standard Bank and HelloChoice, designed to address some of the most pressing challenges in the agriculture value chain, namely: food waste, emerging farmer development, and food insecurity. At its core, OneFarm Share acts as a digital match-maker for food requests from registered charitable organisations and available fresh produce.
Since its official launch in February 2021, OneFarm Share has distributed over 19 267 tonnes of fresh produce resulting in an incredible 76+ million meals being created. There are currently 547 contributors on the platform – this cohort comprises 444 emerging farmers (of which, 129 are female), 78 commercial farmers, 14 food producers and packhouses, and 11 market agents.
The birth of a partnership
In June and July 2021, SA Harvest embarked on a partnership journey with the OneFarm Share Programme in SA Harvest’s three main areas of operation – Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. This collaboration began with a simple yet profound goal: to rescue surplus food, support emerging farmers and redirect it to those in need. In the first year, SA Harvest received donations totalling 1,759,111 kilograms of fruit and vegetables from the OneFarm Share programme.
Expanding relief efforts
As the partnership grew, so did its impact. In 2022, SA Harvest’s partnership with the Solidarity Fund to deliver relief to areas affected by floods in July and August of that year expanded the relationship with the OneFarm Share programme to include the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, resulting in a total volume of 3,582,534 kilograms in that year. This collaboration was a testament to the ability of organisations with shared values to make a significant difference in times of crisis.
Through partnerships with organisations in each region, SA Harvest was able to reach areas that have never received assistance, with many of the recipients being child-headed households. A second Solidarity Fund initiative was undertaken from November 2021 to February 2022, delivering nutritious food parcels to close to 10 000 families in 39 areas across six provinces.
Supporting emerging farmers
OneFarm Share’s emphasis on procuring produce from local emerging farmers strengthened the partnership even further, highlighting the importance of community engagement and support in sustainable food rescue efforts. OneFarm Share and the retailer and input supplier Agrimark have partnered to explore ways to add value to the new-generation farmers OneFarm Share procures from, such as offering input discounts at Agrimark stores for a wide range of farming products and equipment. This approach demonstrates a commitment to building sustainable relationships with farmers and empowering them to thrive.
Food rescue at market level
In 2022, the OneFarm Share programme began rescuing from the Pretoria Market, resulting in 272,252 kilograms of fruit and vegetables being diverted from ending up in landfill to SA Harvest’s Gauteng warehouse. In 2023, to date, 128,815 kilograms has been rescued from the Pretoria Market.
Total donations to date
To date in 2023, the partnership has resulted in the donation of 1,522,422 kilograms of food in seven regions. These donations have included a wide variety of produce, ranging from potatoes and carrots to oranges and pumpkins. The impact of these contributions on individuals and families across South Africa is indescribable.
Logistical support and game-changing bins
Prior to June 2023, the potential to rescue loose fruit from packhouses and farmers was largely untapped due to the significant logistics and lack of a solution to the need for large agri-bins. Efficient food rescue requires more than good intentions; it demands logistical support, and OneFarm Share stepped in to broker partnerships with organisations like CHEP and Agrimark.
These collaborations provided the necessary infrastructure, including agri bins, to move substantial volumes of produce from various regions, most significantly one million tonnes of citrus fruit donated by Clemengold in Mpumalanga to SA Harvest’s warehouses in Durban and Johannesburg over a three-month period.
The introduction of bins will be a game-changer in SA Harvest’s food rescue operation, as it now enables SA Harvest to collect loose fruit, increasing the volume of donations significantly and providing packhouses with an efficient solution to their surplus and excess fruit.
Since the introduction of CHEP and Agrimark bulk bins into SA Harvest’s food rescue operation, loose fruit and vegetables have been received from several producers, including 15 bins of tomatoes, lemons and soft citrus from Lucerne Pack 50 000 kilograms of butternuts from Oude Muur Packing, 4 000 kilograms of citrus from JAT Fruit and 187 200 kilograms of citrus from Stellenpak.
Efficiency in food rescue
Efficiency is key to effective food rescue efforts. SA Harvest’s ability to deliver surplus fruit directly to beneficiaries in agri bins, while beneficiary organisations provide smaller packaging, streamlines the process and ensures that food reaches those in need as quickly as possible.
OneFarm Share’s collaboration with Agrimark addressed another significant challenge in food rescue – access to packaging. Agrimark Packaging, one of the country’s leading suppliers of packing material for the agri sector, is making fruit and vegetable packaging material available to enable the surplus fruit rescued in large volumes by SA Harvest to be distributed promptly to beneficiaries from SA Harvest’s warehouses.