DECIDUOUS FRUIT FARMERS BENEFIT FROM JOBS FUND FOR COMMERCIALIZATION
- HORTGRO to provide vital support
March 23, 2016
Researchers receive grants aimed at technology commercialization
PAARL, Western Cape. –The Deciduous Fruit Industry in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and National Treasury has launched a Jobs Fund project to support twenty four (24) black deciduous fruit producers over the next 4 year period. An amount of R120 million will be utilised to renew and expand orchards, as well as for production equipment and farming infrastructure. This will be based on detailed farm planning models currently being conducted by external service providers, to guide and assist the farmers to full commercial status.
The partnership between the private sector and government will assist the pome and stone fruit industry to materially impact on the footprint of smallholder farmers, said Mariëtte Kotzé, HORTGRO Information Manager: Agricultural Economics. HORTGRO is the national service group for the deciduous fruit industry. “The current participation level of smallholder farmers is at 7% of the industry and through this initiative and other private sector initiatives current in progress in the Western and Eastern Cape, this will increase to at least 13% over the 4-5 years. The envisaged new orchard developments as well as the replacement of old orchards will generate a potential income of R2.9 billion over the lifespan of the orchards which will have a significant impact in the rural economies as well as the individual businesses which will create even bigger spin-offs in these rural economies due to the multiplier effect of agricultural business,” said Kotzé.
This initiative follows on the fifth call for proposals by the Jobs Fund seeking innovative ideas that will provide comprehensive support packages to smallholder farmers to address the constraints hindering smallholders’ productivity and commercial viability. These constraints include but were not limited to: access to appropriate finance, markets, infrastructure and integration into the existing agricultural value chains.
The initiative is called the DFDC Commercialization Programme. The Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber of South Africa (DFDC-SA), a subsidiary in the Deciduous Fruit Industry structures – will be supported by HORTGROin the operational execution of the project. HORTGRO will also provide support with financial management and reporting. Project oversight and monitoring is being provided by a project steering committee which is comprised of representatives of the various project partners.
The 24 farmers in the Western (20) and Eastern (4) Cape are all 100% black owned entities which have in recent years, through the other support projects in the industry, shown a high potential for commercialization and job creation. Technical, management and financial support will be provided to these farmers to assist them in realising their commercial potential.
According to Mr Pitso Sekhoto, Chairman of the DFDC, the initiative was born out of the need to generate economic growth that is needed to facilitate the integration of black farmers into the mainstream economy and to achieve the Deciduous Fruit Industry’s vision of an integrated and representative deciduous fruit industry. “We are confident that the beneficiaries of this project will be able to graduate into the mainstream commercial sector after the 4 year programme which will not only increase the production footprint and ensure increased market access of our black farmers in the Deciduous Fruit Industry, but will also enhance their participation in the off-farm value chain of the sector. This project will also create 504 new permanent jobs and will ultimately allow space for new entrants to enter the sector”, he said.
The programme consists of a range of strategies that are grouped together into six broad programmatic components namely proper farmer profiling (that includes whole farm plans for each farm); an increased production footprint of black deciduous fruit producers; upgrade of production capacity; improved market access; integration into viable value chain and value-added enterprises.
Western Cape Dept of Agriculture (Mogale Sebopetsa – Tel: 082 458 5291)
HORTGRO (Mariëtte Kotzé– Tel 084 761 1310)
Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber (Kevin Maart – Tel: 073 951 0499)