SOUTH AFRICA – The Economic Transformation of the Black Citrus Growers (ETBCG) Programme has started to bear fruit despite facing initial challenges during implementation.

The Citrus Growers Association (CGA) proudly announced that a substantial amount of R78.9 million has already been disbursed to support black growers through this pioneering initiative.

This program has proven to be a major lifeline for black citrus farmers, who have historically struggled to secure loan funding and financial aid.

Beyond financial support, the initiative has prioritized skill transfer to empower these farmers and has also created numerous new job opportunities in surrounding communities, as highlighted by the CGA.

In 2019, the CGA launched the ambitious R307 million Economic Transformation of Black Citrus Growers Initiative in collaboration with various entities, including the Jobs Fund, the Land Bank, the Department of Agriculture, the Agri Seta, the LIMA Rural Development Foundation, and First National Bank.

Over the past three years, an impressive R161.3 million of the total funding has been approved, and R78.9 million has already been dispersed to support the operations of successful black citrus growers.

These funds have been allocated strategically to cater to essential needs, such as access roads, land preparation, irrigation infrastructure, farm equipment, vehicles, fencing, packhouse equipment, a de-greening room, generators, a solar system, and a substation.

The investments have not only bolstered existing citrus operations but have also facilitated the planting of 208 hectares of new citrus trees, significantly boosting the overall capacity and growth of the local citrus industry.

In spite of challenges faced during the initial phases of the ETBCG Programme, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other industry-related issues, the initiative has demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability.

It has emerged as a highly successful venture that not only addresses the needs of black growers but also fosters the long-term sustainability and profitability of farming operations.

One of the most gratifying aspects of the program is its substantial contribution to employment. Thus far, the initiative has generated 78 permanent and 625 seasonal jobs, making a notable difference in socio-economic development in the region and positively impacting local communities.

Looking ahead, the CGA remains optimistic about the future of South Africa’s citrus industry, forecasting potential growth in citrus exports to 260 million (15 kg) cartons annually by 2032 with concerted efforts from all stakeholders.

Notably, the CGA has set a commendable target for black citrus growers to contribute 50 million cartons annually to the overall 260 million vision within the next decade.

The undeniable success of the ETBCG Programme exemplifies the tremendous outcomes achievable through collective collaboration and focused initiatives in South Africa’s agricultural sector.

 As the program continues to progress, it is poised to bring even greater benefits to black citrus growers, local communities, and the entire citrus industry in the country.

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