FRESH PLAZA / 29 AUGUST 2019 - 15.55 / STAFF REPORTER
South Africa’s Batlhako Temo Services have successfully entered the export market, making them the first black owned citrus orchard in the North West province to enter the global market. The company will see its products going to Middle East areas as well as Taiwan.
Having started the project in 2012 on a farm leased from the now Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, enterprise partner Issac Moilwa says the journey has not been easy. After the first difficult two years which saw the passing away of two members and a loss on production, the remaining members decided to introduce citrus.
The 61,5 hectare farm currently has 16,000 citrus trees. Although in around 2014 until 2017, the production was in teething stage, their dream was slowly gaining momentum. The North West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development assisted the business on two occasions with at least R800,000 (€47,000) of each of those years. With the funds, the cooperative improved their irrigation system and structure their office space and other logistics.
To date the company has employed 10 workers permanent and over 70 seasonal. The seasonal workers are divided into the local and export market workers. Their workforce includes a seasoned farm manager whom the cooperative commissioned to create a structure for the company and take it to international platforms. Their journey was faced with challenges however they did not despair."
“We were ready to export in 2018 but we could not get a pack house so our products ended in the local markets including SIR Fruit and Magalies Citrus Company. We were determined to break through and as such we did manage to get a pack house. So far we have managed to deliver seven containers and we hope to deliver more the end of the harvest season.”
North West MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Desbo Mohono, remain impressed by the orchard after visiting in the past few weeks. She has encouraged the team to work even harder and grow their global market. Mohono said she would wish to see many farmers tapping on the same knowledge and expanding their territories.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER