Drying raisins on boards in the sun in a vineyard. (Image: Getty)
- Through its Kgodiso development fund, PepsiCo is investing R28 million in the raisin industry to help support emerging farmers in the sector.
- The funds will be deployed on two projects, one to set up a vine academy and a demonstration farm.
- The second project will provide funding to emerging black farmers in the industry with loans.
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The Kgodiso Development Fund, founded by Safari brand makers PepsiCo, has just given the Northern Cape raisin industry a R28 million boost to support emerging farmers in the sector.
The funds will be used for two projects in the province, one of the two largest raisin-producing provinces in the country.
A tranche of R16 million from the Kgodiso Development Fund will focus on financing three emerging black farmers in the form of loans. The capital will be used to help expand their raisin production. The industry body Raisins SA will be responsible for supporting farmers with the necessary technical skills and financial knowledge they may need to improve their vineyards and bring them up to good agricultural standards.
An additional R12 million will be used to set up a vine academy and a model or demonstration farm in Kakamas, providing emerging farmers and workers with classroom and on-the-job training. The model farm will be a research and development entity that will house industry know-how on the cultivation and production of raisins in South Africa.
The investment will boost the South African raisin industry, the world’s fifth-largest raisin producer and fifth-largest exporter. The country’s raisin industry is also unique in producing most raisin products, including Thompsons, Goldens, Flames, Sultanas, and Currants.
With the grape sector being so labor-intensive, the potential for employment opportunities is immense, said Diale Tilo, executive director of the Kgodiso fund.
“The Kgodiso Development Fund has a specific mandate to seek to create ‘shared value’ solutions that help build a sustainable food system by increasing inclusiveness in agriculture, creating local employment opportunities and increasing local sourcing and supplier diversity,” Tilo said.
“For this region to remain competitive in the long term, the industry must have access to a pool of the best qualified human resources and be at the forefront of research and development,” said Tilo.
The Vine Academy project is established in collaboration with the Martin Oosthuizen high school, one of the oldest agricultural schools in the country. The academy will take advantage of its underutilized land, water and infrastructure, all of which have been operationalized by Raisins SA since April last year.
PepsiCo SSA Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Derick Appia-Kubi said the company is working to build a sustainable food system.
“One of the ways we are trying to do this is to develop a sustainable agriculture program, using this model farm concept, to provide field farmers with training in field agronomy, efficient use of fertilizers and water, and plant protection techniques,” says Appia-Kubi.
Raisins SA will strengthen existing operations with the addition of more modern facilities.
As a major producer of raisins for its Safari and Simba brands for domestic and international markets, the investment aligns with PepsiCo’s offerings. The company operates a large, technologically advanced processing plant in Upington and sources raisins from the Orange River and Vredendal areas.
“One of the biggest obstacles for emerging farmers is not having access to large-scale buyers, as well as the means to transport or distribute their products to market. Through the Fund’s ties to PepsiCo SSA, we are able to offer grantees access to a large buyer of (in this case) raisins,” Tilo said.