South Africa’s stone fruit sector is making great strides towards achieving greater sustainability. It is expected that by 2021, 60 stonefruit growers will have participated in the Siza (Sustainability Initiative of South Africa) environmental audit programme that aims to improve sustainability levels, ethical trade and environmental stewardship. Many farms have implemented best-practices such as measuring their water-use efficiencies, using satellite imagery to improve water management, implementing biological and organic farming practices, calculating their carbon footprints and making use of solar panels as an alternative energy resource.
As well as adhereing to international safety standards, farmers also have to comply with the more comprehensive and specific private and commercial standards that ensure an ongoing supply of safe, quality fruit for export markets.
Meanwhile, the South African government is also encouraging female growers to succeed in the agricultural sector. In addition, PALS was established by fruit farmers with economic growth, job creation and social harmony as its principle goals. The organisation is working to ensure the establishment of successful black farmers as owners of the land: it involves the whole community in an inclusive process, and also provides mentorship and training programmes.
The sector has also launched the Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit marketing campaign to promote South African stone fruit in the UK market, with online promotions across the majority of UK retailers.