Supporting Smallholder Farmers to Enter the Organics Sector in South Africa

At the end of December 2014, the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ) approached SAFL to conduct a study to determine the status of the organic sector in South Africa, and to identify ways through which smallholder farmers could be supported to enter it. SAFL designed a study consisting of six steps:

  • The first step was a review of current literature on the organic sector in South Africa. The Sustainability Institute of Stellenbosch, through its SI Projects team, completed the review, which also went through three academic reviews. Download the review here.
  • As literature on the status of the South African sector was limited, SAFL then completed 14 interviews with key stakeholders across the sector including government, the retail sector, certifiers, local markets, and third party certified organic farmers. The final interview report is available here.
  • Findings from both the literature review and interview process were presented at a half-day seminar at STIAS in Stellenbosch on 22 June 2015. Prof. Raymond Auerbach opened the seminar with a scientific argument for organic presentations on the literature review and interview process by the Sustainability Institute and SAFL, respectively. The seminar was concluded with a plenary discussion, inviting delegates to engage with the findings, provide feedback, and begin to identify some entry points into the sector for smallholder farmers.
  • The half-day seminar was followed by a two-day learning journey on 23 and 24 June 2015 in KwaZulu Natal. In Howick delegates visited a third party certified organic farm (Westfalia’s Everdon Estate) and a local organic enterprise consisting of a farm, shop, restaurant, and training programmes (Dovehouse). The group then travelled south to meet and visit a smallholder initiative on the south coast (Siyavuna). Please note that the project lead may be contacted with suggested revisions to this report.
  • A roundtable discussion took place on 23 and 24 July 2015 in Centurion, Gauteng. The aims of the roundtable discussion were to:

-Present findings to date and continue the discussion on ways to support smallholder farmers into the organic sector;

-Develop a concept note for a public private partnership, for which GIZ would make half of the funding available if a corporate partner could be identified; and

-Identify other projects that would be driven by stakeholders within the sector, and possibly further facilitated by SAFL.

Vodacom, the Sustainability Institute, and Naturland all offered presentations on the first day, outlining what they could offer towards future organic projects in South Africa.

  • The final step in this research process was a process report to GIZ, documenting key findings with a set of critical recommendations to inform the development of a future proposal. The document can be downloaded here. A number of key websites and papers were identified and used during the research process. These include:

For further information, please contact the project manager, Dr Anri Manderson at

Project Details


The Ford Foundation

Start Date

End Date




Key Outputs

Programmes on local radio stations

MFA Indaba