Buffalo City Organic Producers (BCOP) is a co-operative that was established in 2004 with the thrust of promoting food security and poverty alleviation in the township of Mdantsane, near Eastern Cape. This predominantly female run co-operative has grown tremendously in the past decade and has a list of accolades to show for this.
How was it established?
After years of growing organic vegetables in member’s gardens at their homes and selling them, Buffalo City Municipality finally recognized BCOP’s efforts in 2009. In partnership with Department of Economic Development and environmental Affairs, the municipality introduced the co-operative to hydroponic production of tomatoes. Giving them a tunnel, as well as providing mentorship and training through a partnership with NETSAFRICA, a network between Italian and South African local governments, followed this.
The organization has benefited immensely from NETSAFRICA as they now have their own pack shed for washing and grading of tomatoes and a truck that makes it easy to transport their produce. In 2013, BCOP emerged as the winner at the ‘Female Entrepreneur of the Year’ awards in Top Commercial Entrepreneur category at both district and provincial levels. The organization was among entrepreneurs who represented Eastern Cape at the national awards held on the 23rd of August 2013 in Gauteng.
Buffalo City Organic Producers is currently impressed with the performance of the hydroponic production that they continue using. BCOP has introduced vegetables under tunnels like peppers, cucumbers, and beans. The organization looks forward to forging a relationship with big retails such as Par, Checkers and Woolworths where they would provide their vegetables.