RSA top fruit harvest

Hortgro, South Africa’s deciduous fruit grower organisation, has teamed up with the South African Department of Health to promote Covid vaccination for fruit workers and among the wider population.

South African pear and apple packers have collaborated with the public health and private sector to provide Covid vaccination sites, with the aim to portray the willingness of the South African agricultural sector to assist in the prevention and containment of the spread of the virus.

Among the companies helping to educate people about the benefits of the Covid vaccination is pome fruit packer Two-a-Day, which has launched a campaign to communicate the positive benefits of being vaccinated.

HR manager Dmitri Jacobs said: “We are providing registered nurses to administer the vaccinations. We hope that this will help to convince people that being vaccinated is safe and beneficial to everyone’s health.”

The fruit packer is vaccinating both those who are currently eligible for the vaccine, and its own employees and workers at associate farms and their families.

“As the agricultural sector, we are essential workers who must provide food for the nation, and so offering on-site vaccinations also means that our staff won’t need to miss a day’s work to receive a vaccine,” Jacobs explained.

South Africa has so far exported 5.306m cartons of apples to the UK this year, with Royal Gala, Cripps pink/Pink Lady, and Braeburn being the most exported varieties. There has been a 23 per cent increase in pear exports to the UK, with more than 919,000 cartons shipped to date.

The South African fruit industry is also tackling the challenges of transformation and economic reform. The Job’s Fund Project, created by Hortgro, the Jobs Fund, and the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA), has just come to an end, a programme that has helped 21 emerging farmers to reach commercial status since its beginnings in 2015.

Head of the Jobs Fund, Najwah Allie-Edries, said that smallholder farmers and emerging farmers have traditionally been excluded from the commercial value chain.

“The Jobs Fund wanted to support innovative initiatives that would initiate systemic change in the agriculture sector,” he said. “The programme has demonstrated the importance of strategic partnerships that work on farm level.”

Applauding the jobs fund, Dr Mogale Sebopetsa, head of the WCDoA, noted: “Agriculture is the sunrise sector. It can bring jobs and economic stability to our country. It is well-placed to lead the economic recovery of our country from the front”.