Farming a smallholding is very tough in South Africa. Because smallholders have to deal with a crime like robberies. Sometimes farmworkers are attacked which may cause a great loss. They also have to struggle for getting access to fertile land and water. All these challenges are common in sub-Saharan Africa. In this situation, many smallholders are taking support from smart tech and experiencing good results.

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Siphiwe Sithole is one of the successful smallholders who is growing indigenous crops like amadumbe, cocoyams, and bitter greens on her small farm. Ms. Sithole has focused on organic and indigenous produce. She has been trading under her own brand, African Marmalade which is the secret of her success. Siphiwe Sithole said, “The further you are from the market the more you’re going to bleed.”

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Big commercial farms easily can buy things like fertilizers and good seeds. They also have broader access to multiple markets. However, Siphiwe does not have to compete with those commercial farms. She explained, “We’ve seen with the escalating prices of oil, the further you are from the market, the more you’re going to bleed and you’re not going to be able to sell some of the stuff [produce].”


Like Siphiwe many smallholders in South Africa are using technology to level the playing field. Many Agri-tech startups like Khula! Are creating opportunities for smallholders. “Khula!” startup and its app have started its activities in 2018. It has already built a network of 7,500 farmers. Hundreds of third-party suppliers and agriculture advisers are also working in this network.

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The senior manager for agriculture at Nedbank Maluta Netshaulu said about this initiative, “There’s a lot of platforms [around] at the moment, in terms of supplying your produce, but there isn’t one that assists farmers to source the inputs and that gives them that freedom to choose.”