The Northern Cape raisin industry just got a R28 million cash injection for emerging farmers

Business Insider SA
Drying raisins on boards in sunlight at a vineyard. (Image: Getty)
Drying raisins on boards in sunlight at a vineyard. (Image: Getty)
  • Through its Kgodiso Development Fund, PepsiCo is investing R28 million in the raisin industry to help support emerging farmers in the sector.
  • The funds will be deployed to two projects, one to set up a vine academy and a demonstration farms.
  • The second project will offer funding to black emerging farmers in the industry with loans.
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The Kgodiso Development Fund, founded by the makers of the Safari brand, PepsiCo, has just given the Northern Cape raisin industry a R28 million boost, directed towards supporting emerging farmers in the sector.

The funds will be employed for two projects in the province, one of the country's two biggest raisin production provinces.

A tranche of R16 million from the Kgodiso Development Fund will focus on funding three emerging black farmers in the form of loans. The capital will be used to help expand their raisin production. Industry body Raisins SA will be tasked to support the farmers with the necessary technical skills and financial insights they may need to improve their vineyards and to get them up to good agricultural standards.

An additional R12 million will be used to set up a vine academy and a model or demonstration farm in Kakamas, offering emerging farmers and workers both classroom-based and in-the-field training. The model farm will be a research and development entity that will harbour industry know-how on raisin farming and production in South Africa.

The investment will provide a fillip to the South African raisin industry, the fifth largest producer of raisins worldwide and the fifth-biggest exporter. The country's raisin sector is also the only one that produces most dried grape products, including Thompsons, Goldens, Flames, Sultanas, and Currants.

With the grape sector being as labour-intensive as it is, the potential for employment opportunities is immense, Diale Tilo, Executive Director for the Kgodiso fund, said.

"The Kgodiso Development Fund is specifically mandated to look at creating 'shared value' solutions that ultimately help build a sustainable food system by increasing inclusivity in agriculture, creating local employment opportunities, and increasing local procurement and supplier diversity," said Tilo.

"For this region to remain competitive over the long term, the industry needs access to a pool of the best possible skilled human resources and be at the forefront of research and development," Tilo said.

The Vine Academy project is established in conjunction with Martin Oosthuizen High School, one of the oldest agricultural schools in the country. The academy will be leveraging its under-utilised land, water, and infrastructure, which have all been operationalised by Raisins SA since April last year.

PepsiCo SSA Strategy and Transformation director Derick Appia-Kubi said the company is working on helping build a sustainable food system.

"One of the ways we are trying to achieve this is by developing a sustainable farming programme, by using this model farm concept, to provide farmers on the ground with training in field agronomy, efficient fertilizer and water use, and plant protection techniques," Appia-Kubi said. 

Raisins SA will be bolstering the existing operations with the addition of more modern facilities.

As a large producer of raisins for its Safari and Simba brands for the domestic and international markets, the investment aligns with PepsiCo's offerings. The company operates a large, technologically advanced processing facility in Upington, and it sources raisins from both the Orange River and Vredendal areas.

"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, we are able to offer the beneficiaries access to a large buyer of (in this case) raisins," Tilo said 

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