Overview: Global markets increasingly require rapid and coordinated response to standards and certification. Yet despite broad political transformations in post‐Apartheid South Africa, structural power relations limit emerging farmer capacity to effectively access certified markets such as fairtrade and organic. Within the Rooibos commodity network, inequitable functioning has prevented emerging farmers from fully developing critical market‐access skills and resources. While diverse groups have collaborated to achieve mutual interests, the cooperative building process has been marked by conflict. There is a need to involve producers in networks as this will help the industry to more effectively capture lucrative market opportunities. Successful community and emerging farmer network efforts are potential building blocks in which to inform further engagement. The South African Rooibos Council is working towards developing formal emerging farmer networking space as part of its Broad‐based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) portfolio. Diverse industry and organizational experts are increasingly invested in emerging communities and a core group has expressed interest in further collaboration. Commodity network efforts have been incrementally achieving goals, but more work needs to be done to ensure development sustainability and scalability.
Action plan: Our team initially engaged human capabilities to implement a farmer‐leader‐based approach to producer support. This strategy integrated training, participatory action research (PAR), and industry networking to develop the capacity necessary for effective participatory information sharing and action planning (PIE/PAP) at the community and industry levels.