Participation of black ownership in the value chain of fruit exports has always been a topic of debate. Or rather the lack of it, because fruit packing, logistics and marketing have been somewhat thin on the ground in transformation which is generally desired across the South African industry.
Now, a fully black-owned packhouse is gaining track in the Vyeboom region and has started packing and shipping its first apples to the Far East. It is a ground-breaking new development which leads the way in transformation in the fruit packing sector.
Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape Government, called it a very proud day for the fruit industry. “A very proud day indeed! Congratulation and may you be blessed with many years of prosperous growth in returns and jobs," he exclaimed.
D&M Fresh Products is a family business owned by Derich Priga and his family and is located near the Theewaterskloofsdam.
In what has now become a mutually beneficial relationship with D&M Fresh Products, South Africa’s Stargrow Group, and specifically its subsidiary Stargrow Development and the marketing arm Stargrow Fruit Marketing, are supporting the company to expand its role in the South African industry. “This is part of our clearly declared policy of supporting transformation in the South African fruit industry,” says Michiel Prins, chairman of Stargrow Group.
“South Africa is now living through exciting political change and our president has asked companies to get involved to help and promote true transformation," he continues. "We found in Derick Priga a person with passion and commitment, and great skill in fruit packing and we are confident that he will enjoy great success.”
“We entered into our partnership with Stargrow Fruit Marketing last year," says Priga. "This will enable D&M to gain more experience in that field. We very recently started packing for the export markets for the first time.”
Ismail Motala, who is already in partnership with Stargrow at his farm Waveren near Wolseley, says Priga’s entry into the value chain of fruit exports is of great significance. “It is a ground-breaking event because this is one area where we have seen little progress.”
Motala is a well-known figure in agriculture and in the fresh produce business. He is, among other things, chairperson of the Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber (DFDC) and the Deciduous Fruit Industry Development Trust (DFIDT), as well as chairperson of the Western Cape region of the African Farmer Association of South Africa (AFASA).
Fruit from Motala’s farm will soon be packed at the D&M Fresh Products packhouse, but according to Priga growers from the Villiersdorp region are already also supporting his venture. “With our relationship with Stargrow Fruit Marketing we now not only offer packing options for growers, but also become a gateway to a fast growing marketing channel.”
Prins says Stargrow Development is in the process of planning similar projects with other black farmers in the Western Cape. “On a macro level we are also engaging with communities in areas of high potential for fruit growing in other parts of the country, but these projects represents another challenge altogether.”
Meanwhile Motala is also making great progress at Waveren, where the latest pear varieties have been planted in the redevelopment of the farm in association with Stargrow. While fruit from older orchards will be packed at D&M Fresh Products this year, the new orchards will start nearing fruit next year.