Cracking the export market can seem extremely difficult, especially when you’re a start-up farmer. However, with a little know-how, your agricultural products can also make it to the international markets.
During a recent episode of Food For Mzansi’s weekly Gather To Grow interactive discussion on Twitter, a panel of experts unpacked the 101 of exporting.
Tamsin Davids, owner of food safety and quality firm Krystal Farming and Consulting; Elton Greeve, trade and engagement manager at Tridge; Peter Pentz, communications manager at Groote Post Wines; Thabile Nkunjana, agricultural economist at the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC); and Uzair Essack, fruit exporter and managing director at Riyp, joined the discussion.
The session was led by farmer Gugulethu Mahlangu and Food For Mzansi editor for audience and engagement, Dawn Noemdoe.
What is agricultural exporting?
Before getting into the nitty gritty of exporting, Greeve helps listeners define what is meant by agricultural exports. According to Greeve, exporting “is the ability of a country to produce fruits and vegetables or a product and market and sell it on an international basis”.
He adds that it is not only an economic driver, but it also helps put farmers in a niche market.
Meanwhile, Essack says that the main products South Africa is known for, are wine and fresh produce. “Our fruit – whether it’s an orange, an apple, a pear, a grape, a berry – is world renowned. You can go to any country who can’t produce it themselves and you can find our products on their shelves.”
Exporting to different countries
But what exactly are the benefits of exporting to more than one country? According to Nkunjana it is imperative for farmers to export to different countries.
“The importance of getting a market that is diverse, is to minimise the risk of your product being exported into one country and, then for some reason the relations between those two countries go south. Then you’re going to have a big problem in terms of finding another market,” he explains.
Meeting global standards
Davids says that although Global GAP is any farmer’s “ticket” to export, it is not the only certification that farmers need, especially if farmers are looking to enter European markets. She adds that Global GAP standards are good agricultural practices in the field, but once the product moves to the warehouse, there are different standards that must be met.
According to Pentz, whether a farmer is doing business locally or internationally, there are always risks involved. “There are political and global risks. There are things like Brexit that has an effect on your exporting, there’s things like Covid which would be a global risk, and you need to be aware of that,” Pentz explains.
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