The Sustainability Initiative of South Africa has become a household name in the South African and international fresh produce sector and plays a crucial role in the pursuit of sustainability

In an era of climate change, contributing to a greener planet and supporting South African producers in creating sustainable farming practices are key driving forces for Siza, the Sustainability Initiative of South Africa. Over time, Siza has grown to become a crucial part of the fruit-growing community both in South Africa and internationally, grappling with sustainability issues within the global fresh produce trade.

South African apricots

In addition to comprehensive social and environmental standards, Siza’s initiatives include capacity building and guidance on renewable energy integration, effective waste management in agriculture, enhanced soil management, and bringing environmental practices in line with what is practical for agriculture.

“In the global effort to combat climate change, the agricultural sector plays a significant role,” says Retha Louw, Siza’s CEO. “Farms have a unique opportunity to contribute significantly to carbon reduction by implementing sustainable practices. Reducing carbon emissions at the farm level is not only imperative for environmental sustainability but also enhances farm productivity and economic resilience.”

Siza has structured its activities in such a way that it can reach its participants daily through personal contact, workshops and farm visits. Siza is also active on various digital platforms and social media, giving members around-the-clock access to information and resources on the MySiza platform.

The South African fresh produce industry has come a long way since earlier retail demand for product and systems audits introduced them to a complex new world. Siza says that as far as audits are concerned; we must compare apples to apples.

“A social audit, environmental audit, and food safety audit aren’t the same – one is an apple, the other a plum and the third (a social audit) perhaps a lemon,” says Louw. “These audits are about examining different aspects and although the questions perhaps seem like duplication, especially where health and safety is concerned, one measures the impact on the people, one the environment, and the other product safety. With Siza, producers enjoy extended audit validity periods, allowing them to focus on enhancing practices rather than perpetually preparing for annual audits.”

Retha Louw SIZA

Retha Louw, CEO of Siza


According to Louw, producers with fewer findings during audits benefit from longer validity periods, incentivising sustainable and efficient agricultural practices. By partnering with global programmes such as GlobalGAP, Leaf Marque and several others to streamline audits, Siza assists not only the supplier but the industry as well in reducing time and costs spent on farm assessments.

These initiatives also bring peace of mind to overseas trading partners, who care that the right systems underpin the products they receive. “You do not know where you are on these important issues if you do not have access to data and can compare your business practices within the fresh growing world,” Louw notes.

The Siza Digital Recordkeeping Programme aims to revolutionise record management for companies of all sizes, from small single-site farms to multinationals. It is integrated into the MySiza platform and accessible to all enterprises, both locally and globally. Siza’s Digital Recordkeeping Programme and the transparency it offers throughout the supply chain can help companies become global market suppliers, says Rouw.