Launching the publication Harvest of Hope, which celebrates the successes of 14 BEE joint-venture enterprises in the Western and Northern Cape citrus industry, chairperson of the Western Producers’ Forum Gerrit van der Merwe commented that South African society is in the process of dramatic and sometimes traumatic transition. “Agriculture is no different and the pressure facing commercial farming enterprises to keep up with the challenges resulting from both economic change and the transformation of society far exceed similar expectations elsewhere in the world,” he said.
He added that close to 3 000 workers are already sharing land ownership in the Cape citrus regions as a result of BEE initiatives. Further, if the much larger community of workers and their families are included, that figure rises to around 25 000 people affected by the successes of the industry. In a previous visit to the Cedar Citrus BEE partnership started by Van der Merwe, his brother and 36 of their workers in 1998, Archbishop Desmond said that: “If 10 years ago someone had told me would see white farmers and their workers in this valley becoming partners, especially a farmer called Van der would never have believed them.
The hopes and dreams of the rainbow nation are alive and well in the citrus orchards of Citrusdal.” n a special message for the Harvest of Hope launch Tutu said, “For some years now have been following the progress in the transformation of the citrus industry in the Western Cape. On these farms people are not only sharing ownership in agricultural enterprises, but whole communities share in the social structures which have been built up around these farms. Through partnership with commercial farmers they share in technology and skills transfer and this puts them on the road to success.” – Wouter Kriel