Grower Development

Ensuring forestry is accessible to all

While small-scale timber growers own or manage only 3.5% of South Africa’s commercial timber plantation, they are by far the largest single grower group in numerical terms, with FSA proudly representing 20 000 of the estimated 25 000 small-scale timber growers located across four of the five forestry provinces in South Africa (e.g. Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape). Small-scale growers share the same passion for forestry as the other grower groups but often face very different challenges. These can be classified into six focus areas:

  1. Business Development – how can I have access to information and support that will help me succeed in my business of growing trees?
  2. Extension Services – who can educate me and hold my hand in applying the new knowledge gained through scientific research in my tree growing business?
  3. Finance – from where and how can I obtain access to funds that could help me grow, harvest and transport my timber to the market?
  4. Land Tenure – will I still be the rightful owner of my tree crop by the time they are ready for harvest?
  5. Marketing of Timber – will I get a fair price and be able to sell my produce freely on good terms?
  6. Skills training – what skills do I need to succeed in this business, where do I acquire them and at what cost?

Key objectives

The FSA Grower Development Programme has been developed to aid small-scale timber growers to address these challenges, with the objectives of:

  1. improving productivity, sustainability and the competitiveness of small-scale timber growers;
  2. supporting small enterprise development opportunities through new afforestation;
  3. supporting small enterprise development opportunities brought about by the transfer of existing State plantations to beneficiaries; and
  4. encouraging resourcefulness among new entrants in the Forest Sector.

To achieve this, FSA has identified three strategic interventions to address the challenges faced by small-scale timber growers. These are as follows:

  1. Developing the business and technical skills-base of small-scale timber growers by facilitating their access to:
    • Business advice and planning services
    • Forestry extension services
    • Accredited skills development and training (short-courses, learnerships & bursaries)
    • Mentorship support programmes
  2. Supporting small-scale timber growers to improve their economies of scale by expanding their forestry operations and/or work co-operatively with other growers.
  3. Facilitating access to better marketing opportunities through providing support for:
    • Group forest certification schemes (FSC and PEFC)
    • Co-operative timber marketing and preferential procurement

These strategic interventions are achieved through facilitators, who bring FSA’s technical partners and small-scale timber growers together. Technical partners then offer support in the form of training, workshops and mentoring programmes within their areas of expertise. The impact of these strategic interventions is closely evaluated by FSA’s Business Development Unit and the relevant Small Growers Group District Committee and also by our technical partners and the respective Municipality Local Economic Development (LED) units.

FSA Grower Development partners

Extension partners

FSA works with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR), the Working on Fire programme and its corporate members to ensure that small-scale timber growers are included in and have access to a variety of forestry-related extension support services and programmes.

Finance partners

FSA is actively working on forging partnerships with several development finance institutions and agencies to assist small, micro and medium-scale timber growers access a variety of funding opportunities in order to enhance their businesses.

Land tenure partners

FSA works closely with various stakeholders involved in the land tenure system, including Government, local iNkosi and communities to integrate and improve social facilitation in timber growing communities and to ensure that potential land tenure issues are resolved speedily and equitably.

Department for Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR)

Ingonyama Trust

Traditional Leaders

Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Western Cape District Municipalities

Skills training partners

FSA recognises the importance of small-scale timber growers having access to a variety of training opportunities and upskilling initiatives. We have thus partnered with the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing SETA (FP&M SETA) and several training providers, to offer our growers the opportunity to grow their plantation businesses.