Caption: All parties look happy as they sign the new agreement between the ARC and Culdevco. At the back: Prof Bongani Ndimba, Dr Cynthia Motsi, Dr Leon von Mollendorff from Culdevco. In front, Dr Shadrack Moephuli and Dappie Smit from Culdevco.
A new agreement between Culdevco and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) for a further 10 year period was signed last week in what can be described as ‘a best-practice step to commercialise home-grown’ cultivars locally and internationally.
According to the agreement Culdevco is being tasked with the commercialisation of deciduous fruit cultivars developed by the ARC. This agreement is nothing new and historically dates back to 2006, but has recently expired. Culdevco was established in 2006 when the South African Deciduous Fruit Industry and the ARC formed a joint venture to commercialise all ARC-bred varieties.
“As with all things, everything changes with time,” said Culdevco Chairperson Dappie Smit. “The environment within which cultivars are being managed and commercialised in the deciduous fruit industry has changed substantially over the past number of years and new negotiations and agreements had to be drawn up that would create a win-win for all parties involved.”
Culdevco will in future evaluate, commercialise and promote ARC cultivars locally amongst growers. “The aim is to keep the home-grown advantage before we commercialise cultivars abroad,” Smit said. The recent launch of Joybells, a new table grape variety, at Fruit Logistica in Berlin, is an example of this approach.
ARC CEO, Dr Shadrack Moephuli, said, “partnerships, such as with Culdevco, enable the ARC to directly disseminate technologies and scientific solutions to farmers and their associated organizations for use in commercial enterprises; which in turn, facilitates the competitiveness and sustainability of South African agriculture.
“The net effect is market access and sustainable jobs for our society. We, therefore, hope this agreement will strengthen the relationship/s between Culdevco, the Deciduous Fruit sector and ARC for the growth of South African farmers”
Commercial development of ARC-bred varieties has already made a significant impact on the South African Deciduous Fruit Industry. This impact is clearly reflected in the number of new cultivars that have been released to the industry during the last 20 years, as well as the foreign exchange earned through exporting fruit of these cultivars to countries abroad. In total 10 pome (apples & pears) fruit, 11 table grape and 67 stone fruit cultivars have been released to the South African Deciduous Fruit Industry during this period.
Currently, there are more than 150 varieties under the management of Culdevco, which include varieties of apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots and table grapes, as well as apple and stone fruit rootstocks. All these varieties will be of great benefit to the South African Deciduous Fruit Industry as they have been specifically developed for South African growing conditions.
 Culdevco (Pty) Ltd is the commercialisation entity for the 5 industry associations in the deciduous fruit industry, ie, Hortgro Pome and Stone Fruit sectors, SA Table Grapes Industry (SATI), Dried Fruit Technical Services (DFTS) and Canning Fruit Producers Association (CFPA)