The Kgodiso Development Fund recently announced that it will be investing a total of R28 million to support up-and-coming raisin growers in the Northern Cape. This is set be a major boost to the local industry and small-scale, black-owned farming enterprises.
The Kgodiso Development Fund has pledged R600 million of investment over a period of five years to help transform the food system of South Africa. The fund was an outcome of PepsiCo’s acquisition of Pioneer Foods in March 2020.
According to Diale Tilo, executive director of the Kgodiso Development Fund the fund is looking at creating “shared value” solutions that ultimately help build a sustainable food system by creating local employment opportunities and increasing local procurement and supplier diversity.
“The Fund will prioritise activities that support the growth and scaling of black-owned emerging farming enterprises and SMME businesses, promote regenerative agriculture practices and encourage the adoption of innovation to revitalise local production within South Africa’s agriculture sector,” says Tilo.
Food For Mzansi talks with Tilo about the latest investment.
It seems that R28 million is a lot of money to invest in raisins. Why raisins?
South Africa is currently ranked the fifth largest producer of raisins worldwide, and given that grape production is extremely labour intensive, the potential for employment opportunities is immense.
The dried vine fruit industry is adding R4 billion to SA’s GDP and creating 30 000 jobs to mostly workers without matric. It is also important to note of the total of 700 raisin farmers, 120 are emerging farmers. The industry is also growing by leaps and bounds and earning foreign currency, since 75% of the total production is exported.
PepsiCo SSA is a large procurer of raisins for its Safari and Simba brands for both the local and international markets. It operates a large and technologically advanced processing facility in Upington and sources raisins from both the Orange River and Vredendal areas.
How will the Fund be distributing this money? Any key projects in particular?
In terms of the R28 million investment announced on 19 May in Northern Cape, there are two separate projects.
The first project is an investment of R12 million for the first year, in a partnership with 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 farm workers, while the model farm will be the centre for research and development on the best practice for raisin farming and production in South Africa.
The second project is the investment of R16 million to fund three emerging, black farmers with loans to expand their raisins production. Raisins SA will support the farmers with the technical skills and financial acumen required to uplift their vineyards to good agricultural standards.
In general, the fund will invest in the training of emerging farmers, trials of new varieties, testing new irrigation methods etc.
Why does the Kgodiso Development Fund see it as important to invest in up-and-coming, black farmers and small-scale farmers?
The establishment of this fund allows it to collaborate with like-minded partners, to develop solutions that address critical issues surrounding the region’s food security and hunger. The Fund wants to see the impact that these commitments have in terms of reaching the shared goal of a thriving, resilient and sustainable food system in South Africa.
R300 million of the total investment will be allocated to agricultural development to assist black-owned, emerging farming enterprises to upscale their businesses and ensure that they are provided with opportunities to integrate into the value chain. It is envisioned that this will help transform the country’s agricultural landscape by developing a new generation of sustainable farming enterprises
Access to markets, as we know, is a bit of a challenge when it comes to small-scale farmers. How can farmers overcome this challenge? Will the fund also be assisting the raisins farmers in this regard?
While the Kgodiso Development Fund operates independently from PepsiCo, one of the ways to assist its beneficiaries is to provide a route to market. One of the biggest barriers to emerging farmers is not having access to buyers at scale, as well as the means to transport or distribute their products to market. With the Fund’s ties to PepsiCo SSA, it is able to offer the beneficiaries access to a large buyer of (in this case) raisins.
Kgodiso Development Fund will also invest R16 million to fund three up-and-coming, black farmers with loans to expand their raisins production. How will this process work in choosing those farmers? Who will be eligible to access these funds?
These farmers have already been selected based on some key criteria which include (but is not limited to) their existing farming record, the number of people who will potentially be positively affected by their growth, and access to water, to name just a few.
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