Raisins South Africa revealed that it strives to ensure the environmental integrity and social well-being of its local communities in order to ensure the future sustainability of the country’s dried fruit industry.
The association, which represents more than 700 raisin producers, announced the environmental strategies and socio-economic development projects which are at the forefront of its objectives.
“South African raisin processors are always looking to reduce their environmental footprint while ensuring that the industry contributes positively to the quality of life of farmers and their communities,” noted the industry body.
According to Raisins SA, the industry is focused on the energy efficiency of its farms, water consumption and waste reduction.
Water use is constantly monitored and strict governance is in place to manage water use in the Orange River and Olifants River regions so as not to ruin the abundant water source for irrigation.
Micro-irrigation, drip irrigation, and flood irrigation are used by raisin growers, but all farms must adhere to water rights limitations.
Energy efficiency is achieved through innovation in agricultural techniques, such as the raised nets which are now widely used in South Africa for drying raisins, which helps prevent mold.
The industry also plays a key role in generating economic activity, creating jobs, generating foreign exchange and stimulating rural South Africa economies.
South Africa’s raisin industry provides 30,110 employment opportunities, contributing to South Africa’s national poverty reduction goals.
Within the raisin industry, the emphasis is on providing workers with additional support in the workplace.
In addition to providing a laundromat for protective clothing, local food programs in schools and communities are funded by packers and raisin producers.
South African raisin experts have engaged directly with local educational institutions to educate and encourage skill development within the local community.
The awareness-raising projects carried out by Raisins SA, such as facilitating grape grading courses and teaching soil preparation techniques to students in local schools, were “essential for the future development of skills in order to stimulate the ‘local economy’.
Earlier this year, Raisins South Africa hosted a first raisin tasting in Upington at the Protea Hotel. The event brought together 50 raisin producers, packers and technical advisers.
Raisin samples were tasted, scored and judged on a digital tasting app platform specially developed for the event.
“This is one of the many projects that the high school’s agricultural department, together with Raisins SA, are organizing to promote agriculture and agricultural education,” said Ferdie Botha, CEO of Raisins South Africa. It was an informative workshop that we hope to do a lot more in the future.