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Fruit SA: Agri workers our biggest asset

The South African fruit sector is nothing without agricultural workers, thus the sector views its human resource component as its most valuable asset.

In a value statement released by Fruit South Africa (FSA), the umbrella body of the South African fruit industry, the issue of human rights and agricultural workers is addressed as follows: “We commit ourselves to a spirit, culture and actions aimed at enhancing the development of and opportunities for employees within profitable and sustainable businesses. This commitment relates to compliance with all relevant national and international labour legislation and practices.”

The value statements also focus on other human rights issues such as ethical behaviour, freedom of association, transformation, and environmental stewardship. Find the full statement here.

Dr Konanani Liphadzi, CEO of FSA, says that it was necessary to develop such a declaration of intent because our values inform what we do and how we do it. These values are the yardstick by which we measure ourselves but more importantly for society to hold us accountable. As a highly labour intensive and rapidly growing sub-sector, the fruit industry is a major contributor to employment – employing roughly 300 000 people annually, therefore our people are our most valued asset.

Anton Rabe, Hortgro Executive Director and a Board Member of FSA, said that the deciduous fruit industry is committed to improving the lives of all workers in the agricultural sector and acknowledges that not enough has been done to transform the sector.

“Our point of view is, you can’t drive transformation in an environment where there isn’t economic sustainability and policy certainty. We have made great progress with many things that are within our control, but there are things that fall outside our control within the Government and policy domain which hamper many of our efforts.

“That is part of the frustration. For us, it’s simple: Open markets for us, and create the potential for the growth with a stable policy environment within which entrepreneurs have the confidence to invest, then link that growth to transformation and economic development which will enhance the livelihoods of workers and give recognition where it happens.”

Fruit South Africa (FSA) is a non-profit organisation formed by the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA); Hortgro (representing pome and stone fruit); South African Table Grape Industry (SATI); Subtrop (representing the avocado, litchi, mango and macadamia industries) and the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (Fpef) to address common issues in relation to all aspects of the fruit industry of South Africa.

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