Black citrus farmers who need funding to expand their operations can start applying today with the new Citrus Growers Association (CGA) Economic Transformation Programme.
With R307 million available to upscale black farmers, the programme aims to create more than 1700 new seasonal and permanent jobs in the citrus industry.
The project is a partnership with the Jobs Fund, AgriSETA, Landbank and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. It will be rolled out over three years and with specific focus on farmers in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, North West and KwaZulu-Natal.
CGA CEO Justin Chadwick says the programme will see to it that an additional 1726 seasonal and permanent jobs are created in the citrus industry, which will foster the expansion of black-owned citrus farming operations.
“The fund will be used to expand growers’ production, so it will be used to plant more orchards and expand their production, so they become a scalable and sustainable economic unit,” says Chadwick. The project will also focus on pack house development for the packing of the fruit.
“The project really is around job creation and around pro black development,” says Chadwick.
Farmers welcome the programme
Western Cape citrus farmer Wayne Mansfield has been farming with citrus since 2015. He says the programme could be impactful for farmers like him, who face constant financial struggle.
“Funding is a critical aspect of the business,” he says. “But the biggest challenge I have is acquiring land. I am currently leasing the land that I farm, says Mansfield.
Mansfield leases 12 hectares south of Paarl, where he farms with lemons. He says although this programme could give much relief to up-and-coming farmers like him, the lack of access to land means that he cannot fully expand his operations as the programme intends.
“I would be fortunate to have funding I can apply for expansion, but I don’t have the land to do it, so that is a big issue for me,” Mansfield laments.
The project is aimed at availing affordable funding for expansion, orchard rehabilitation and on-farm infrastructure development, by subsidising loan funding with a grant from The Jobs Fund, while also making available skills development funding.
“Any black citrus farmer who exports citrus can apply,” says Chadwick.
- CGA has appointed Lima Rural Development as the Programme Manager. The Citrus Academy will provide skills training support, and the Grower Development Company (CGA-GDC) is the implementation partners to the programme. Citrus farmers are urged to apply on the Citrus Growers Association website.