The Jobs Fund (JF) project of the South African deciduous fruit industry is on track and progressing well in the Langkloof. The JF is the commercialisation of emerging growers and an initiative by the Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber (DFDC). It scheduled implementation period is between 2016 and 2020.
Words Louise Brodie
“Despite the water challenge, the implementation of the JF project is progressing well in the Langkloof,” says Halalisiwe Msimango, JF Manager. “The group of growers we are working with is succeeding in planting and nurturing the orchards that have been planted on their farms as part of the fund. They also regularly attend the JF meetings and co-operate with each other to assist our service providers to implement the soil preparation, orchard trellising and irrigation that are also required in addition to planting the trees donated by the JF.”
Msimango and technical advisor, Ben de Villiers, recently undertook one of their scheduled visits to the Langkloof region, where they visited each of the properties and met with their management in order to observe the progress of the project and to assist them with the practicalities and challenges of its implementation. They also attended one of the regular planning meetings of the JF recipients in the area at Appelkloof (Mistico). The meeting was led by Ricardo Du Preez from Langfontein (Rica’s Fruit) in his capacity as chairperson of the group of JF recipients in the Langkloof. There is a good level of co-operation between the group members with regards to planning and implementation of shared services such as soil preparation, irrigation planning, and other inputs.
The Langkloof experienced severe drought during 2016 and 2017 but recent good rains have restored water security to the region. Thus for many of the farming operations, the timing of JF has provided a respite in difficult times and although implementation of the programme in the region was initially challenged by the drought, the prospects for the programme are looking good for the following two years.
The first orchards that have been implemented in the region by the Jobs Fund were planted in 2016, followed by more plantings in 2017. De Villiers is satisfied with the progress of the orchards and added that some of them have truly thrived despite the recent drought in the region. More orchards are scheduled for planting later this year.
Part of the Jobs Fund implementation involves regular monitoring the progress of the programme. One of the verification methods on established orchards is by means of aerial surveys through GIS mapping or flyover. This is scheduled to be done at regular intervals and the next drone flyover in the Langkloof is scheduled for March and April 2018.