Deciduous Fruit Industry recently decided to award excellence for transformation efforts. Transformation Awards 2022 took place on 31 March at the Technopark Protea Hotel, Stellenbosch. Here is the speech by Hortgro Chairperson, Nicholas Dicey:
HORTGRO, the national umbrella industry service body for the pome (apple and pear) and stone (peaches, plums etc) fruit industries acts as a facilitator and enabler to ensure a conducive environment for all its members to grow their businesses profitably and sustainably throughout the value chain. This is done by execution and implementation of a range of industry services and functions structured within 11 key programmes as mandated by producers from time to time. Funding takes place via statutory levies aligned with the directives and guidelines from the NAMC, with annual reporting to the NAMC and the Auditor General.
These programmes are directed both at Production (supply side) and Market (demand side) issues. These range from Research and Development and Tech Transfer on the Production side to Trade and Market Access and Market Development, logistics and infrastructure and information on the Market side.
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 cross cutting 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 in 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 as clear cut as one would find in other industries. 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.
The DFDC, a strategic structure and operational capacity partner within HORTGRO plays a critical role within this process via the following roles and responsibilities:
- Guiding and influencing transformation policies and programmes to the benefit of the deciduous industry.
- Enhancing and supporting the industry position regarding transformation throughout the value chain.
- Communicating the successes and addressing the challenges of the deciduous industry given its long term and highly technical nature.
- Assisting with perception management and the image of the industry within the political, public sector and media domain.
- Identifying and guiding transformation projects within the Deciduous Fruit industry
The DFI’s vision of “INSPIRING INCLUSIVE GROWTH – DOUBLING THE INDUSTRY BY 2050”, speaks directly to the importance and commitment from the pome and stone fruit industries for successful transformation and its long-time realization that transformation in the deciduous industry will require a multi-faceted approach in tackling this challenge.
As an industry we acknowledged that the pace of transformation needs to be sped up and that it needs to occur throughout the value chain and not just on primary level.
To this end since 2015, transformation initiatives were refocused from a training, worker welfare and skills development approach to a wide range of economic development initiatives and support programmes with up to 90% of Industry transformation funds being channeled to economic development.
To illustrate this, I would like to highlight some of the programmes followed and outcomes achieved during the last couple of years.
From these figures, it will be noted that although the potential to unlock impressive values and job creation abilities are achievable, the investments into a long-term industry such as ours are extremely expensive and often hard to come by which add to the complications of implementation of successful and sustainable transformation projects.
The need to increase the footprint of the deciduous fruit grower from the traditional Western Cape and Eastern Cape regions has also been recognized with developments in the other fruit growing areas in the country, that may be conducive to the cultivation of Deciduous Fruit. In this endeavour the DFDC has been consulting with the necessary departments in the various provinces to pave the way for the establishment of a viable deciduous sector within their provinces.
Furthermore, I believe that transformation has a much higher rate of success in a thriving industry. In a recent Vision of the future Workshop held by Hortgro, the top 5 high impact and high uncertainty drivers of change were identified as
- Market Access
- Infrastructure & Logistics
- Water Availability
- Climate change
- Political instability
In ensuring a thriving and inclusive industry that can continue to drive transformation and growth, in especially the rural communities of our country, every effort needs to be made in ensuring that these drivers are recognized and addressed.
The progressive producer corps within the Deciduous Industry has also been extremely proactive on the Transformation front, with numerous very successful private initiatives, be it on 100% black-owned or equity-based initiatives that have seen the light.
Tonight’s gala event, coupled with the award ceremony, is a testimony to the dedication of the emerging growers and the support systems that have assisted them in realising their goals. The industry applauds you for your nominations and achievements. I believe the effort and dedication that the DFI has put into the transformation program is showing that great progress has been made and that soon each of the recipients and nominees will be fully commercial producers and participants ready to be the mentors and leaders of the next generation of new entrant deciduous producers.