Raison project helps struggling farmers
Die Burger 9 Dec 2016 Samantha van den Berg
Grapes along the Orange river are dried in the sun to make raisons. (Photo as illustration.)
The completion of an empowering project through which 55 small-scale farmers were trained and 220ha of raison grapes were established is one of the highlights in the dry-fruit industry.
The project was launched four years ago in the Eksteenskuil Farmers Community in Keimoes, with the help from the Dry Fruit Technical Services (Hortgro).
According to Mr Dappie Smit, manager of DFTS, a total of 220 ha raison grapes were planted at 55 small-scale farmers Eksteenskuil.
DFTS initiated and managed the project together with help from several other organisations who rendered services and who helped to finance the R25 million that were needed to run the project.
National Treasury also contributed through the Jobs Fund about R18 million to the project.
The struggling small-scale farmers were already producing raisons along the Orange River, but due to lack of knowledge, lack of technical training, support and no access to markets, they could not achieve their full commercial potential.
According to Mr Smit 220 ha raison grapes were planted over three years after proper soil preparation was done. DFTS supervised and gave advise during the establishment phase.
Chris Krone, a former fruit producer of Tulbagh and consultant in the fruit industry was involved in drawing up the business plan for the project.
Earl Loxton a raison and wine grape producer and a beneficiary of DTS’s empowerment project received the South African Fruit Industry’s price for the best beginner.
According to a statement, Loxton started about five years back when he took over on plot 593 in Eksteenskuil. The land was not profitable and the established vines was old and neglected. Loxton started to revive the old vines and established new vines. Today he has 35 ha established raison grapes and 7,5 ha wine grapes on the plot. He also established an additional 9,3 ha raison grapes with help from the DFTS project.
Loxton has a diploma in agriculture from the Elsenburg Agricultural College outside Stellenbosch.