UCOOK has partnered with the Philippi Economic Development Initiative and Abalimi Bezekhaya to launch a pilot project uplifting local farmers!
Johannesburg, South Africa (09 April 2021) – UCOOK has announced a new initiative aimed at closing the loop between young farming entrepreneurs, agri-processors and the end consumer.
The company came about when two friends – David Torr and Chris Verster Cohen – wanted to find a more convenient way to help people make dinner. Within two years, the concept took the country by storm as South Africa’s favourite meal-kit delivery company. But that was just the beginning. Now, UCOOK is all about bringing even more convenient solutions straight to your door, with new offerings like ready-made Craft Meals just one click away.
“We’re also revolutionising the way South Africans eat. How? By teaching you where your food comes from, showing you how you can support small businesses and farmers with every order, and making every meal as convenient – and wholesome – as we possibly can.”
And their latest project – named Khulisa Amafama, meaning ‘grow farmers’ – has been developed in partnership with the Philippi Economic Development Initiative (PEDI) and development organisation Abalimi Bezekhaya (meaning ‘farmers of the home”).
Khulisa Amafama is a pilot project to work with four urban farms – Feed the Khaltsha, Thunariso, Abathethi and Nonkululeko – that represent a larger group of emerging production farmers in the Cape Flats. The initiative’s goals include providing one-on-one mentorship and skills training to improve harvest quality, helping to reach PGS organic standards, helping to increase farm productivity, and contributing to food security and community upliftment.
UCOOK co-CEO Peter Allerstorfer says that agriculture supports billions of livelihoods as the world’s largest economic sector.
“In South Africa, market access is an important intervention point for smaller producers as it leads to an increase in income, enhances food security and provides opportunities for further enterprise development,” says Allerstorfer. “Through the development of a production framework that suits the needs of our business, we are able to further provide secure market access for these farmers.”
The meal-kit delivery company soon realised that small-scale farmers faced another issue.
“Despite supporting a network of small scale farmers for many years now by consistently purchasing their products, the farmers have largely been unable to grow their businesses and move out of subsistence farming,” says Amy Murgatroyd, programme manager for the initiative. “We identified the need to provide them with additional support, and Khulisa Amafama was born.”
“Abalimi has been supporting small-scale farmers in the townships for 38 years, and market access is an essential to allow these farmers to grow,” says Grace Stead, MD at Abalimi. “Through providing a structured mentoring programme, support with infrastructure and resources, as well as a secure market, we believe that this partnership will help the farmers to grow while providing organically grown vegetables to UCOOK via PEDI.”
UCOOK, PEDI and Abalimi Bezekhaya have engaged with the candidate farmers to define a production plan that spans over a 12-month period and takes into account farm suitability, seasonality and UCOOK’s – as the major purchaser of produce – market needs.
“The pilot will be treated as a research project, prioritising reflection and progress reporting. The final data will be used for further programme development, with the aim of rolling it out to a larger group of farmers,” says Allerstorfer.