Grape grower goes global

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Elize Beukes (63) is a Northern Cape farmer with global reach.

She farms grapes which are turned into raisins.

Beukes exports her raisins to the United Kingdom.

Situated in Eksteenskuil just outside of Upington in the Northern Cape, Beukes has an eight-hectare farm. Two hectares are dedicated to growing grapes.

In January she harvested 93% and 73% of the expected yield from her choice-grade raisin grapes and golden raisin grapes, respectively.

The raisins are exported thanks to an offtake agreement she has with processing company Red Sun-Dried Fruit and Nuts.

Wine grapes and lucerne are also produced, says Beukes, who is grateful for the donation of lucerne seedlings from the Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform.

ALSO READ: COCONUT RAISIN CHOCOLATE PUFF WHEELS: DELICATE SWEET TREATS

Raising jobs

According to the department, raisin grapes’ peak season provides employment for 30 000 to 35 000 seasonal workers.

The MEC for Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform, Mase Manopole says raisin grape farmers like the Beukes family contribute about
R2 billion annually to the country’s economy.

“South Africa earns foreign currency from these farmers as 90% of all produce is exported.

“More than 30 000 people work permanently in the South African raisin industry, in the Orange River Valley vineyard belt. If one considers an average household size of five individuals, then the total reach of the South Africa raisin industry (indirectly) impacts 150 000 individuals,”

Manopole says

Beukes hires 12 people during harvesting season, and two seasonal workers during planting season.

Chief Executive Officer of Raisins South Africa Ferdie Botha says thanks to the Northern Cape Orange River Valley vineyards belt’s contribution, the raisin industry has doubled over the past eight years.

Botha says that various private and public sector developments have seen the volumes of raisin grapes grow from about 40 000 tonnes in the 2011/2012 season to 85 000 tonnes in the 2019/2020 harvest season. The harvest is expected to reach 100 000 tonnes of raisin grapes in the 2023/2024 harvest season.

He says the global trend towards healthier eating provides an opportunity to grow the industry even more. “Raisins are versatile and can be used in a wide variety of food products, such as a natural sweeteners,” he adds.

Farmers may call the Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform at 087 630 0387 to see if they qualify for support.

Written by Silusapho Nyanda



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