Black farmers have welcomed an R40-million investment this year by the Citrus Growers’ Association Growth Development Company (CGA-GDC) to support emerging black citrus growers. According to CGA CEO Justin Chadwick, the Enterprise Development Grant Fund (EDGF) hopes to allocate a further R141 million by 2024. The fund was made available to emerging farmers by collecting an export levy that is paid annually by CGA members to the CGA-GDC. The CGA-GDC then administers and allocates the funding through direct payment to service providers for the purpose of developing black citrus growers.
One of the recipients is Limpopo-based Thabo Moripane, who is the founder of Manini Holdings. It was registered in 2017 as a farming enterprise that also involves cattle, sheep, maize and soya. Moripane told Vutivi News that he had used the grant for the purchase of key production inputs such as fertiliser needed to grow his citrus trees, which he said was very costly. “After I received the grant, I bought fertiliser because it is becoming very expensive,” he said.
“The grant fund assisted us to be sustainable in keeping our farm and trees in good condition. “It also assisted us in buying chemicals that accelerate the growth of our orchards, thereby saving us time and money in terms of production.” Moripane also said that normal orchards took five years to yield fruit, but they would be able to cut down the number of years thanks to the chemicals they purchased with the grant. He also plans on using the money to establish an additional 70 hectares of citrus, including 10 hectares of Leanri soft citrus, 10 hectares of seedless lemons, 40 hectares of Nadorcott and 10 hectares of Maayana soft citrus.
Chadwick said that the CGA-GDC hoped to help mitigate the impact of other industry-wide challenges affecting the sustainability and profitability of developmental farms by supporting them with funding for these critical inputs. “With industry experts forecasting that less than 20% of the industry is likely to achieve above break-even returns at the end of 2022, it is clear that the support and assistance offered by the CGA-GDC to smaller developmental growers will remain critical if we want to ensure the long-term survival of their businesses within the sector,” Chadwick said.
“(In the) long term, the EDGF will assist developmental growers with the capital required to procure production infrastructure, machinery, equipment and a range of horticultural products. “The grant also aims to assist growers with the costs associated with the accreditation required (legal and professional) towards the commercialisation of their fruit for export to foreign markets,” he added.