WHERE : South Africa

In South Africa, maize plays a vital role in the agricultural sector. The country’s smallholder farmers, however, face significant challenges in earning a sustainable livelihood through the crop. In the Eastern Cape province, for example, a lack of knowledge regarding good agricultural practices, limited access to quality inputs for pest and disease management, and inadequate storage infrastructure all prevent smallholder farmers from making a living from maize.

Market Solution

To ensure the long-term resilience and food security of communities in need, Tanager and the John Deere Foundation have partnered to implement the Imbewu Farmer Development project in OR Tambo District, Eastern Cape province. (“Imbewu” means “seed” in Xhosa, the language spoken most frequently in the province.) The project, which takes a market systems approach, will enhance agricultural productivity, facilitate access to commercial markets, and improve incomes for the district’s smallholder farmers.

The first year of Imbewu Farmer Development introduced farmers to good agricultural practices. The project is building upon this knowledge via a three-pronged approach to boost farmers’ production efficiency and profit potential:

  • Aggregation: An aggregated, or “block,” farming approach will enable farmers to join forces and become more competitive: By consolidating their production, farmers gain economies of scale whereby they can access commercial markets typically closed off to them.
  • Storage: Storage allows farmers to take advantage of price fluctuations in the market: Proper storage minimizes post-harvest losses while ensuring farmers can hold their crops for sale until prices are at their highest.
  • Entrepreneurial ecosystem: Farmers must leverage the entrepreneurial ecosystem to be successful. The project will therefore facilitate partnerships with agri input dealers, financial institutions, and mechanization dealers to help smallholder farmers maximize their yields.


Imbewu Farmer Development Project


South Africa



Market Impact

  • Reach 2,760 smallholder maize farmers
  • Increase maize yields by 67%
  • Increase incomes from maize by 67%