Expanding export markets for South African fruit, improving relations with government and getting more previously disadvantaged people into the industry. These are just a few of the priorities of Fruit South Africa’s new chairperson, Vangile Titi-Msumza.
Titi-Msumza, who has served South African agriculture in many different ways during her career in government, says she looks forward to her new role.
She has held the position of deputy director general at the former department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (DAFF). Titi-Msumza also played a pivotal role in Mzansi citrus gaining access to China.
During her tenure at DAFF, she was able to assist in ensuring that the country remains part of the African Growth and Opportunities Act. Her role in managing to open more ports for direct shipments of citrus to the USA is widely acknowledged.
Titi-Msumza replaces Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers’ Association, who has come to the end of his term as chairperson of Fruit SA.
Chadwick tells Food For Mzansi that he thinks his successor will be a great leader at the fruit industry umbrella body.
“I’ve served my two years and it’s time for me to now step down.
“Vangile is a great woman and has been very instrumental in getting citrus fruit into China, and she’s also been very active with getting animal products into the USA.”
In an exclusive interview with Food For Mzansi, Titi-Msumza shares how she plans to grow the fruit industry during her tenure.
Duncan Masiwa: Vangile, congratulations on your appointment as the new chairperson of Fruit SA. What is at the top of your to-do list?
Vangile Titi-Msumza: Fruit SA has over past year grown as an organisation that represents the interests of the fruit industry. At the top of my list are working with all role prayers to achieve sustainability, inclusivity and profitability of the industry.
How do you plan to build and expand the South African fruit industry during your tenure?
What attracted me to Fruit SA in the first instance is the collective and transparent approach that together we can achieve greater heights. I hope to enhance the work done by my predecessor and ensure that we maintain that spirit as we deal with concrete challenges to the industry.
What are some of the challenges that currently plague the industry?
There is a multiplicity of challenges, market access, transformation and logistics being the key ones needing our undivided attention. Of course, we are aware that we will not get anywhere if we do not strengthen our relationship with government.
What is your outlook for SA’s fruit industry for the next five years?
We have already experienced tremendous growth in the citrus and avocado industry, for example, with the concomitant challenges of looking for new markets and securing what we already have.