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Philippi Agrihub Expected to be Buzzing with Farmers and Buyers Again

Updated: May 18, 2023

The Philippi Agrihub will finally get to operate as intended following years of leaps and losses due to a lack of proper planning and sustainable financial support.

Philippi Economic Development Initiative (PEDI) CEO, Thomas Swana, said R7.6 million provided by the City of Cape Town for the refurbishment would complement their vision. PEDI runs the Agrihub, formerly known as the Philippi Fresh Produce Market. Swana said the financial boost came months after struggling to keep things afloat. If all goes accordingly, the market may start in July.

Thomas Swana, the CEO of the Philippi Agrihub is hopeful the funding will be instrumental in reviving the market. Photograph: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

The refurbishment includes the building of offices, an upgraded security facility, a variety of market floors, and storage rooms, with some comprising modern refrigeration and air conditioning to sustain the quality of the fresh produce and promote urban farming.

It is also aimed at the conversion of organic food waste into organic compost to support City commitments that seek to divert waste from landfill and ancillary climate change objectives.

Opposite the market hub, renovations of the wholesale building is under way, and the gardens are also kept lively through partnership programmes.

Although the Philippi Agrihub has been through a financial rollercoaster, partnerships helped to get a few projects going. Photograph: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

Eddie Andrews, the Mayco member for spatial planning and environment, said the funds form part of grant transfers received from the National Treasury supporting the City’s multi-year programme of investments used to upgrade the facilities. The funding is used for a variety of aspects aimed at enhancing the use and functionality of the facilities, such as electrical, plumbing, general building, and site works.

‘’Unfortunately, the market never operated as initially planned,’’ he said. “City, with National Treasury funding, is investing in the refurbishment of the facilities and improved management and operations to allow for the original objectives to be met with an integrated approach to the operations.

Swana said, through their “U Can Grow Africa” programme's database, there are hundreds of small-scale farmers already shortlisted to benefit from it. “U Can Grow Africa” has established a database of over 1 000 small-scale farmers.

‘’It hasn't been an easy journey to restore this place, especially following failed projects due to financial related constraints, but we are happy that local scale farmers will have a place to reach their market and grow in business,’’ Swanna said. “We are a non-profit, and our mandate is empower the small scale farming to be competitive through trainings and skills developments, business development services and job creation. ”That means giving back to the community and working for the people of not just the Philippi community but the Western Cape and all national small scales.’’

He said this would benefit the buyers conveniently, affording them access to organic products at affordable prices, opening from the early hours until mid-day, if not longer. Their modern security systems would be linked to neighbouring hotspots, and be accessible to the law enforcement and hopefully be vital in curbing crime.

At its peak, some 300 people could be employed at the Agrihub as part of the integrated facility, supporting many thousands of indirect jobs.

John Dearden from the partnering Roots Agripreneur programme said this is what the facility has needed for a long time, and he hopes it will promote modern innovative agriculture.

The programme works with women from vulnerable backgrounds. Khanya Sinikelo is one of those vulnerable women. She said this is exciting because they would easily apply the knowledge gained from the training while providing affordable nutrition in accessible proximity to their neighbourhoods.

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