SOUTH AFRICA – The Citrus Growers Association: Grower Development Company (CGA-GDC) and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) have signed a R1.2 million (USD 63,405) agreement to support black citrus producers in the Eastern Cape.

This 18-month agreement will initially benefit 10 of the 37 black citrus producers in the region. The farmers are from Patensie, Sundays River Valley in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, and the Kat River Valley in the Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality.

The Eastern Cape citrus industry significantly contributes to the province’s economy, accounting for 25% of its GDP with 24,508 hectares under production.

The region is a notable player in the global citrus market, particularly in lemon exports. Its main export markets include Europe, Africa, the United Kingdom, Russia, North America, Asia, and the Middle East.

“The programme will support black citrus producers with compliance with Global Good Agricultural Practices (Global GAP) and the Sustainable Initiative of South Africa’s (SIZA) ethical trade requirements,” said Akho Skenjana, ECDC senior manager for manufacturing and agroprocessing.

These certifications are crucial for entering the export market, ensuring safe farming practices, and promoting good relationships with farmworkers.

Skenjana emphasized that achieving these certifications will help black citrus producers realize their export potential.

The Global GAP certification covers the safe use of chemicals and farming practices, while the SIZA certification ensures adherence to labor laws and promotes good living conditions on farms.

The agreement also includes a feasibility study to explore the establishment of post-harvest facilities, such as a packhouse and a juicing plant.

This study will assess the need, strategic location, size, and capacity of these facilities based on requests from black citrus producers in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality.

The proposed juicing plant for the Kat River Valley in Fort Beaufort aims to provide additional income streams for farmers.

“The absence of a juicing facility translates into a lost opportunity for additional income for the farmers,” Skenjana noted.

Lukhanyo Nkombisa, General Manager for the CGA Grower Development Company, highlighted the broader impact of the agreement.

“This agreement is part of our goals of driving the development of the citrus industry while contributing to its transformation agenda,” Nkombisa said.

He explained that the funding will be used for compliance and feasibility studies, supporting the certification of black citrus producers.

Nkombisa pointed out that the initial target is to support 10 black producers. However, there are 32 black farmers in the Eastern Cape needing this type of support.

“Even though some are already exporting, they still need certification support because it is an annual requirement before the start of the citrus season,” Nkombisa added.

He expressed hope that this agreement with the ECDC will evolve into a five-year partnership with strict areas of focus to build up black citrus producers for commercial success.

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