The Economic Transformation of the Black Citrus Growers (ETBCG) Programme has surpassed expectations and begun to bear fruit, despite initial challenges faced during its implementation. Proudly announced by the Citrus Growers Association (CGA), a substantial amount of R78.9 million has already been disbursed to support black citrus growers through this pioneering initiative, signifying a significant step towards economic empowerment and transformation in the industry.
For many black citrus farmers, securing loan funding and financial aid has been a historical struggle. The ETBCG Programme has emerged as a major lifeline, providing not only financial support but also skill transfer to empower these farmers and enhance their capabilities. Moreover, it has played a pivotal role in creating numerous new job opportunities in the surrounding communities, further contributing to socio-economic development in the region.
Launched in 2019, the ambitious R307 million Economic Transformation of Black Citrus Growers Initiative brought together various entities, including the Jobs Fund, the Land Bank, the Department of Agriculture, the Agri Seta, the LIMA Rural Development Foundation, and First National Bank, to support the growth and transformation of the local citrus industry.
Over the past three years, an impressive R161.3 million of the total funding has been approved, and R78.9 million has already been dispersed to support the operations of successful black citrus growers. These funds have been strategically allocated to cater to essential needs, ranging from access roads and land preparation to irrigation infrastructure, farm equipment, vehicles, fencing, packhouse equipment, a de-greening room, generators, a solar system, and a substation.
The investments have not only bolstered existing citrus operations but have also facilitated the planting of 208 hectares of new citrus trees, significantly boosting the overall capacity and growth of the local citrus industry.
Despite facing challenges during the initial phases of the ETBCG Programme, such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other industry-related issues, the initiative has demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability. As a result, it has emerged as a highly successful venture that not only addresses the needs of black growers but also fosters the long-term sustainability and profitability of farming operations.
One of the most gratifying aspects of the program is its substantial contribution to employment. Thus far, the initiative has generated 78 permanent and 625 seasonal jobs, making a notable difference in socio-economic development in the region and positively impacting local communities.
Looking ahead, the CGA remains optimistic about the future of South Africa’s citrus industry, forecasting potential growth in citrus exports to 260 million (15 kg) cartons annually by 2032 with concerted efforts from all stakeholders. Setting a commendable target, the CGA aims for black citrus growers to contribute 50 million cartons annually to the overall 260 million vision within the next decade.
The undeniable success of the ETBCG Programme exemplifies the tremendous outcomes achievable through collective collaboration and focused initiatives in South Africa’s agricultural sector. As the program continues to progress, it is poised to bring even greater benefits to black citrus growers, local communities, and the entire citrus industry in the country.
In conclusion, South Africa’s Black Citrus Growers Programme has proven to be a game-changer for black citrus farmers, providing them with much-needed financial support, skill transfer, and creating job opportunities. Despite initial challenges, the initiative has shown remarkable resilience and has significantly contributed to the growth and transformation of the local citrus industry. The program’s success stands as a testament to the power of collective efforts and strategic initiatives in fostering economic empowerment and sustainability in the agricultural sector. As it continues to evolve and expand, the program holds the potential to bring even greater prosperity to the lives of black citrus growers and the communities they serve.
Stay updated with the latest farming tips and agriculture industry news from Africa by subscribing to our newsletter. Don’t miss out on valuable insights and updates. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to join our farming community and stay connected with us.