The non-profit organisation that represents over 700 raisin growers has announced the environmental strategies and socio-economic development projects that are at the forefront of the industry’s objectives. South African raisin processors are always looking to reduce their environmental footprint while ensuring that the industry positively contributes to the quality of life of farmers and their communities.
The raisin industry focuses on the energy efficiency of their farms, water use and waste reduction. Water usage is constantly monitored, and strict governance is in place to manage water use in the Orange River and Olifants River regions so as not to ruin the plentiful water source for irrigation. Micro, drip, and flood irrigation are used by raisin growers, but all farms must adhere to water rights limitations. Energy efficiency is achieved through innovation in farming techniques, such as the elevated nets that are now widely used in South Africa for drying raisins, which helps to avoid mould.
The industry also plays a key role in generating economic activity, creating jobs, earning foreign currency, and stimulating South African rural economies. The South African raisin industry alone sustains 30,110 job opportunities, thereby significantly contributing to South Africa’s national poverty alleviation goals.
Emphasis within the raisin industry is placed on providing workers with additional support in the workplace. As well as providing laundry facilities for protective clothing, local food schemes at schools and in communities are funded by raisin packers and growers.
South African raisin experts have engaged directly with local educational institutions to educate and encourage skills development within the local community. Outreach projects led by Raisins South Africa, such as leading raisin grading courses and teaching soil preparation techniques to local school pupils, are essential for future skills development to drive the local economy.
Earlier this year, Raisins South Africa hosted a first-of-its-kind raisin tasting event at Upington at the Protea Hotel. The event was attended by 50 raisin producers, packers, and technical advisors. Raisin samples were tasted, scored, and judged on a digital tasting application platform specially developed for the event.
Ferdie Botha, CEO of Raisins South Africa added, “This is one of the many projects that the High School’s agricultural department, along with Raisins SA, are organising to promote agriculture and agricultural education. It was an enlightening workshop that we hope to do a lot more of in the future.”