Photo : Simphiwe Mbokazi
Johannesburg - South Africa's biggest consumer foods maker, Tiger Brands, said on Thursday that it would increase the number of smallholder farmers that it supports to help them supply crops - a move the company said would create hundreds of jobs.

Tiger Brands is a leading African manufacturer of branded food, home and personal care products. It owns products such as Tastic Rice, Oros, KOO, Ace Super Maize Meal, Hall's, Albany Bread, black Cat Peanut Butter, and many others.

The company recently identified 33 smallholder farmers in Limpopo and the Western Cape to receive mentoring, financial support and technical training. This is done in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). Tiger Brands chief executive, Lawrence Mac Dougall, said the team had not taken its eye off its other important responsibilities such helping to build communities across South Africa in areas where it operates.

Mac Dougall said Tiger Brands was conscious of the fact that its success was tied to that of communities positively impacted by its operations. "We are committed to making a positive, sustainable difference through our socio-economic transformation programmes using the many levers at our disposal, including our supply chain, our staff and also through partnership with government in areas where we have expertise," Mac Dougall said.

"We will provide training and mentoring to smallholder farmers, source funding for them to increase their input and output, and guarantee to buy their produce through offtake agreements in place." Mac Dougall says the Tiger Brands Emerging Farmer Programme, as the programme is known, should, in the short to medium term, create 400 jobs. "One near-term target is to raise the volume of crops bought from these farmers from 23,000 tons to 35,000 tons a year," Mac Dougall said.

"Next year, as a direct result of Tiger Brands' involvement and support, there should be at least four new black-owned pea farms in operation – the first in South Africa." Tiger Brands said it would also continue to strengthen its relationship with its key strategic social partners, particularly The Tiger Brands Foundation, established in order to bring about broad-based socio-economic impact in vulnerable communities.

Tiger Brands reported a seven percent increase in turnover to R16.4 billion for six months ending 31 March following its comprehensive strategic review last year.