An independent study commissioned by the Department of Agriculture into the importance of the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) has confirmed that the area is a significant employment generator and agricultural asset to both the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape, especially in light of the current drought.

The study, which was conducted by Indego Consulting, investigated the social, economic and environmental significance of the area from an agricultural perspective.

Eighty-six percent of the PHA is actively farmed, supporting 3000 direct and 30 000 indirect jobs. It contributes approximately R484 million in direct turnover, and R 938 million in indirect turnover, towards the regional economy.

Thirty vegetable crops and a range of other activities such as livestock farming, horse breeding, pig farming and the production of flowers take place in the PHA.

A large portion of the lettuce, brassica products such as cabbage and cauliflower, spinach and herbs sold by major retail stores, spaza shops and informal traders is sourced directly and indirectly from the PHA.  The consumer also benefits from lower vegetable prices owing to the proximity of the PHA to City markets.

While most of its outputs are currently sold in market, there is significant scope to access niche and export markets through improved technology, and by leveraging the position of the PHA in relation to the airport, which is also currently undergoing an expansion strategy. An increase in turnover could also be achieved if additional land comes under production.

The report found further that the direct jobs in the PHA mainly benefit unskilled women. This has a positive impact in society as women tend to expend their earnings within the family home, on the education, healthcare and nutrition of young people. The indirect jobs are in the regional agricultural value chain: the input suppliers, agro-processors, formal and informal markets, transport and logistic networks and business services, that support the production space in the PHA. 

Western Cape Minister in charge of Agriculture, Alan Winde, said: “I support efforts to increase the level of protection and management of the PHA to enable a competitive and flourishing agricultural node. Our vision is for a horticultural area which supports thriving production activities, agri-tourism, extensive public works programmes, informal settlement upgrading and compatible business activities in neighbouring areas. It should also have strong linkages to the aerotropolis.”

Based on the findings of the study, a proposed socio-economic plan for the area which seeks to preserve its agricultural significance was developed. This plan is currently undergoing stakeholder engagement.

The short-term focus is proposed as follows:

1.    Providing policy and planning certainty regarding the protection status of and land use within the PHA through all the  legal and planning  instruments available;

2.    Enhanced agricultural production and competitiveness driven through agrarian reform and regional market linkages;

3.    Addressing the safety and security concerns of PHA farmers, farm workers and communities;

4.    Proactive land-use and environmental management and regulation of the PHA core horticultural area and its “buffers”; and

5.    Proactive management of the Cape Flats Aquifer.

In respect of the environment, the PHA lies within the Cape Flats District of the City of Cape Town and is situated above the portion of the Cape Flats Aquifer with the greatest groundwater potential.  It acts as a valuable natural aquifer recharge zone.

The availability of this substantial and quality groundwater, together with a moderate climate and suitable soil, create ideal conditions for all year-round vegetable production and climate change resilience within the Philippi Horticultural Area.

The study found that the importance of the PHA has increased owing to the current drought. While vegetable production has declined by 20 percent over the past year in the Western Cape, production in the PHA has remained stable, demonstrating its valuable contribution to food security. 

The desired long-term outcome would be the joint establishment of a precinct management structure and implementation plan which embraces agriculture as its essence, and is inclusive of a range of stakeholders, with overall financially sustainability. This collaborative structure would protect the PHA for horticulture and drive agrarian reform as well as compatible economic activity. The human settlement needs of agri-workers and informal settlement dwellers must be addressed and ethical business practices and sound labour relations encouraged.

For the full vision of the PHA to be realised, it will require a whole-of-society approach, with government departments and community stakeholders playing vital roles.

Minister Winde concluded: “The Provincial Department of Agriculture recognises the need to protect our natural environmental assets to ensure the sustainability, food security and resilience of the City and province into the future. 

“Achieving the vision for the PHA and realising its true value will require a partnership amongst the public sector (including parastatals), the private sector (farmers, supplier and markets) and civil society (farm workers, informal settlement dwellers, broader community, NGOs and universities).  My Department, through its intergovernmental linkages, will use the instruments that it has available towards the attainment of this vision, and we look forward to working with all stakeholders in doing so.”

PHA Summary

PHA Presentation


For media queries, kindly contact:

Bianca Capazorio
Spokesperson: Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities
Responsible for Tourism, Economic Development and Agriculture

Tel: 021 483 3550

Cell: 072 372 7044

Email: bianca.capazorio@westerncape.gov.za