Table grape harvesting on some farms in Limpopo have officially kicked off. A crop estimate of between 7.7 million and 8.3 million 4.5kg cartons are expected from this area, which will contribute roughly 10% of Mzansi’s total table grape harvest this year.
Grape producers in the area yet to start harvesting, are expected to kick off next week, FreshPlaza.com reports.
Table grapes are produced in five main production regions in Mzansi, with the earliest being ready in the northern provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Here, the harvest starts in November.
It is also reported that the first white seedless grapes and starlight red seedless grapes are being cut in the Loskop Valley, marking the start of South Africa’s total 2021/2022 grape campaign.
The earliest grapes are largely destined for local retail and the local market, where imported grapes are currently trading at approximately R82/kg.
Small volumes of Namibia’s earliest grapes will also be picked this week, with the main Aussenkehr harvest expected in the week of 15 November.
Exporters have expressed concern over tariff increases and container availability in the coming season.
Lesotho border a crime concern
There is great concern for the safety of agricultural communities along the Lesotho border following yet another shooting incident in which a farmworker was killed and another injured.
On 28 October 2021 three workers on the farm Balmacara, in the Vanstadensrus area, were shot multiple times.
According to Jakkals le Roux, chairman of Free State Agriculture’s rural safety committee, the workers were shot by five attackers, apparently from the neighbouring country as they moved across the border after the attack.
Balmacara, Le Roux says, has been a focal point for cross-border crime like livestock and vehicle theft. Cross-border grazing takes place almost daily.
“The border situation has deteriorated enormously in the last few months, with increasing and growing cross-border crimes that seriously threaten the safety of agricultural communities and also cause large property-related losses for farmers,” says Le Roux.
The South African national defence force (SANDF) has been stationed on Balmacara for years, where soldiers operate from the temporary base.
The latest shooting incident is one of six in which victims were killed or shot at in the past month at various border towns, including Wepener, Tweespruit and Ladybrand.
According to FSA the fact that criminals are armed, puts even greater pressure on agricultural communities to secure themselves. This, they reckon, is due to the lack of sufficient manpower, equipment and vehicles with the SANDF and SAPS to effectively address cross-border safety and crime.
“Farmers have been extradited to look after their own safety and that of their families and workers,” said Le Roux.
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