On 31 March 2022, the Deciduous Fruit Industry (DFI) hosted the inaugural Transformation Awards gala dinner in Stellenbosch. A momentous evening where all the short-listed candidates swopped their overalls and Wellingtons for black tie attire.
The event was jointly hosted by HORTGRO, the South African deciduous fruit industry organisation, and the Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber.
Contextualisation of the awards
Dr Thembi Xaba, CEO of DFDC-SA spoke of the contextualisation of the Transformation Awards. She said that, in any industry, role players, and workers need not necessarily be incentivised with rewards as such, but recognition of excellence and black talent in the deciduous fruit industry was vital.
DFDC-SA Chairman, Ismail Motala, said that transformation is not a touchy subject if you are transformed. The question is how do we get there? “We know that there is a level of saturation in the Western Cape and therefore we need to increase the footprint of our industry in the non-traditional areas. We can duplicate this to other areas, making it a success story in South Africa.”
Hortgro and transformation
Hortgro Chairman Nic Dicey said that economic development with a value chain approach, and land reform, supported by socio-economic rural development, skills development, and training form two of the key focus areas within Hortgro that are crosscutting across the whole spectrum of industry programmes and services.
“Transformation in the agricultural sector has been a challenging topic for a long time and the correct models to follow have been debated, investigated, and implemented by numerous role players and industries to ensure workable, sustainable, emotion-free, and equitable ways of addressing this highly complex and sensitive topic. Throw into the mix food security, land claims, generational family ownership, and the volatility and long-term nature of the agriculture sector, and a simple answer to address this need is not clear-cut.
“Hortgro believes that impactful, meaningful, and sustainable transformation is only possible if we duplicate our successes and learn from our mistakes. There are no quick fixes or silver bullets in our long-term industry. Transformation is a process requiring generational succession and certainly not ad hoc events.”
Deciduous fruit potential in Gauteng
Mr Parks Tau, Gauteng MEC for economic development and agriculture said that although Gauteng is small in terms of deciduous fruit, but it has potential for agro-processing, given the nature of the province’s strategic position.
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, said in her keynote address that without success there would not be a need to celebrate.
“In every challenge, there is always an opportunity. And listening to what the DFI has been doing in terms of transformation, is in line with Agriculture’s Agri-Master Plan (AAMP) of inclusive growth, prosperity, and sustainability. Agriculture as a sector must feed it’s nation as a primary objective. We must deal with food security at the local as well as national level.
“Today the DFI is saying they looked at this country and we need to go further than the Western Cape. There are possibilities in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, the Free State, and Gauteng. What about KZN? I think there are lots of possibilities. What I like most about the DFI is that when you talk about growth in South Africa, you need to factor in traditional communities. That’s where you have the people, the land and water as well as other natural resources.
“In agriculture, each day is a challenge. If you don’t have faith, don’t enter this sector. Easy as it may look from the financial perspective, remember the returns in the long-term are not only economical but also social. It is the sector of our economy that has a larger capacity to employ people than any other. But it is also an industry that can create a balance in terms of migration. Because if our rural areas are cultivated and attract some investment, you will not have more people moving to the cities. It is also one of those industries that can accelerate your development as a society. If agriculture thrives in rural areas, your infrastructure and logistics would be better.
“Today, we want to say to the recipients of the awards, congratulations, you’ve made us proud. To Hortgro and DFDC we say well done, but it’s only 10 miles. You must walk more miles to succeed…”