The Kgodiso Development Fund has announced two new investments totalling R28-million, aimed at supporting emerging farmers in the raisin industry.
The first project, in the Northern Cape, involves an investment of R12-million for the first year, in a partnership with industry association Raisins SA, to establish a vine academy and model farm, in Kakamas.
The academy will provide classroom-based and practical training for emerging farmers and farmworkers, while the model farm will be the centre for research and development (R&D) on the best practice for raisin farming and production in South Africa.
The second project involves the investment of R16-million to provide loans for three emerging farmers to expand their raisin production.
Raisins SA will support the farmers with the technical skills and financial acumen required to uplift their vineyards to good agricultural standards.
South Africa is the fifth-largest producer of raisins worldwide and, given that grape production is extremely labour intensive, the potential for employment opportunities is immense.
“However, for this region to remain competitive over the long term, the industry needs access to a pool of the best possible skilled human resources and be at the forefront of research and development,” says Kgodiso Development Fund executive director Diale Tilo.
“The Kgodiso Development Fund is specifically mandated to look at creating shared value solutions that ultimately help build a sustainable food system by increasing inclusivity in agriculture, creating local employment opportunities and increasing local procurement and supplier diversity,” he explains.
The Kgodiso Development Fund was established as one of the public interest commitments food and beverage multinational PepsiCo sub-Saharan Africa made at the time of its acquisition of Pioneer Foods.
PepsiCo sub-Saharan Africa is a large buyer of raisins for its Safari and Simba brands for local and international markets. It operates a large and technologically advanced processing facility, in Upington, in the Northern Cape, and sources raisins from both the Orange River and Vredendal areas, in the Western Cape.
The vine academy project is being established in conjunction with one of the oldest agricultural schools in South Africa, the Martin Oosthuizen High School. As an established industry institution, the school was identified as a strategic asset in addressing human resources and R&D shortcomings.
The school has under-utilised land, water and infrastructure, all operationalised by Raisins SA since April 2021.