Home News Table grape farmers smile all the way to China

Table grape farmers smile all the way to China

The Western Cape department of agriculture and SATI have joined forces to help table grape producers gain access to China’s wholesale and retail markets. Dr Ivan Meyer says, ‘Growing the export market is linked to economic recovery in the province’

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Table grape producers in the Western Cape can look forward to increased market access into China.

This follows an announcement by the province’s department of agriculture today about a strategic partnership with the South African Table Grape Industry (SATI).

Western Cape minister of agriculture Dr Ivan Meyer says they have joined forces to increase exports of table grapes through SATI’s China market development campaign to kick off in March this year.

SATI is rolling out a major campaign in the East Asian country targeting both China’s wholesale and retail markets.

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Meyer confirms that global market access is one of his ministerial priorities.

“The strategic partnership with SATI is aligned with this. The aim is to increase exports of Western Cape agricultural produce by 5% over the next five years.”

Bumper export season

In the past two weeks, producers have been hard at work harvesting table grapes set to be marketed as part of the SATI campaign.

Exports will be increased to about 15 tonnes in the 2020-2021 season, according to Meyer. “Growing the export market by 5% over the next five years will create 19 000 jobs.”

Celebrating their strategic partnership to increase exports to China is Western Cape agriculture minister Dr Ivan Meyer and Clayton Swart, SATI's communication manager. Photo: Supplied/WCDoA
Celebrating their strategic partnership to increase exports to China is Western Cape agriculture minister Dr Ivan Meyer and Clayton Swart, SATI’s communication manager. Photo: Supplied/WCDoA

Clayton Swart, SATI’s communications manager, says they look forward to promoting Mzansi’s grapes abroad.

“SATI’s Transformation Unit has also worked hard to prepare table grape producers to participate in the China campaign,” he says.

One such exporter is Warren Bam who farms in Saron, about 130km outside Cape Town. He produces organic table grapes destined for the United Kingdom, European Union and USA.

Thanks to the support provided by SATI and the Western Cape department of agriculture, Bam will now be able to expand into China.

Warren Bam is a well-known table grape farmer in Saron in the Western Cape. His career as a farmer was sparked after having a conversation with his 9-year-old son and a prophecy that went out in church. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Warren Bam is a well-known table grape farmer in Saron in the Western Cape. His career as a farmer was sparked after having a conversation with his 9-year-old son and a prophecy that went out in church. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Meyer believes the export market plays a vital role in the province’s economic recovery post the Covid-19 pandemic.

He recently highlighted this during a visit to another exporter, Robin Johnson from the Hex River Valley, who is also set to benefit from the campaign.  

Economic recovery is key

“The table grape industry, which employs 40 000 people, is an essential sub-sector of the Western Cape’s agricultural economy. Growing the export market is inextricably linked to economic recovery in the Western Cape,” says Meyer.  

Meanwhile things have been looking up for the the table grape industry. This is despite a late start to the season, and some untimely rains in early January.

The most recent crop estimates for the current season are also promising. SATI expects intake volumes to increase to between 65,3 million and 69,8 million cartons.

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Duncan Masiwa
Duncan Masiwa
DUNCAN MASIWA is a budding journalist with a passion for telling great agricultural stories. He hails from Macassar, close to Somerset West in the Western Cape, where he first started writing for the Helderberg Gazette community newspaper. Besides making a name for himself as a columnist, he is also an avid poet who has shared stages with artists like Mahalia Buchanan, Charisma Hanekam, Jesse Jordan and Motlatsi Mofatse.
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