South Africa stone fruit industry combats prolonged drought
Stone fruit production areas such as Little Karoo from Montagu, Barrydale, Ladismith, Calitzdorp, through to Prince Albert, have suffered severely from the droughts, with some losing their farms, and many farmworkers without income or jobs.
Hortgro, the organisation which represents South Africa’s stone and top fruit industries, has been supporting producers and agricultural workers to manage their product during the harvesting season, as the country continues to battle drought.
Hortgro Science, a research engine of the South Africa deciduous fruit industry, has worked with industry experts to provide growers with relevant, research-based information which aims to enhance the quality of their fruit. Growers reportedly receive regular notes and technical updates from Hortgro Science, highlighting the primary fruit quality aspects to be adhered to during heat waves.
Hortgro, in association with the Canning Fruit Producers’ Association, Agri Western Cape, Agri SA and Wine TU have pooled resources to help producers financially to carry on with the rest of the production season and contain regional crop protection risks.
Hortgro also delivered 1,000 food parcels to affected farmworkers in the Ladismith area and held a ‘resilience workshop’ to empower them mentally with coping strategies at the end of 2019.
The drought, however, has in fact broken in other areas such as Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, and Hortgro are optimistic that volumes will continue to increase throughout the season. Jacques du Preez, General Manager Trade and Markets at Hortgro, said: “We are projecting an increase of 21 percent for nectarines compared to last season’s volumes, an increase of 14 percent for peaches and a 10 percent increase for plums. The continued droughts in some areas have, of course, impacted on the 2019/20 season’s full potential, but volumes and quality have certainly improved compared to last year.”