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Experts say ‘make kiwifruit part of South Africa’s agriculture master plan’

While New Zealand is the world’s leading exporter of the fruit, South Africa has a distinct advantage over that nation thanks to its relative proximity to the EU. As its government appreciates the potential of this sector, it has now partnered with the private sector in drafting an Agricultural & Agro-Processing Master Plan. The plan is said to be launched in the coming months, and with the commitment and implementation of all social partners there could be progress.

The broad focus of the plan is to make interventions to enable growth in the agri sector. Such interventions will range from infrastructure such as improvements in roads, irrigation facilities and water regulations to aspects of animal health, farm safety, stock theft, and more contentious interventions on land governance.

A clear focus on commodities with the potential for growth but that have not featured as prominently as crops such as maize, citrus, and wine grapes is also required. One such commodity is the kiwifruit. South Africa’s kiwifruit industry is small (about 200ha under cultivation), though production dates back more than 40 years.

Several new varieties of kiwifruit have entered SA recently, and some are well suited to local growing conditions. Production hasn’t been reserved for local consumption — exports amounted to about 564 tons in 2020, valued at R23m. Still, it is a small player in the global market.

Now, industry experts believe kiwifruit is well positioned as an industry with a potential for expansion in SA. Given SA’s high rate of unemployment it is worth noting that kiwifruit production is labor intensive, which strengthens a case for it to be explored from a policy perspective.

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