PepsiCo’s Kgodiso Development Fund backs South Africa’s raisin industry with US$1.8m support

SOUTH AFRICA – Emerging raisin farmers in South Africa are set to benefit from PepsiCo’s newly formed Kgodiso Development Fund, receiving R28m (US$1.8m) support.

The five-year R600-million (US$38.4m) Kgodiso Fund was established as one of PepsiCo sub-Saharan Africa’s public interest commitments, made to the government at the time of the acquisition of Pioneer Foods.

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The first project announced is a partnership with Raisins SA, to establish a Vine Academy and Model Farm in Kakamas to the tune of R12m (US$770,000) for the first year.

Raisins SA is a non-profit organisation committed to the promotion of raisin production both locally and internationally.

The Vine Academy to be established, according to Bizcommunity, will provide classroom-based and practical training for emerging farmers and farm workers, while the Model Farm will be the centre for research and development on the best practice for raisin farming and production in South Africa.

The second project is the investment of R16m (US$1.03m) to fund three emerging Black farmers with loans to expand their raisins production.

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Raisins SA will support the farmers with the technical skills and financial acumen required to uplift their vineyards to good agricultural standards.

“The Kgodiso Development Fund is specifically mandated to look at creating ‘shared value’ solutions that ultimately help build a sustainable food system by increasing inclusivity in agriculture, creating local employment opportunities and increasing local procurement and supplier diversity,” explains Diale Tilo, executive director.

South Africa is currently ranked the fifth largest producer of raisins worldwide, and given that grape production is extremely labour intensive, the potential for employment opportunities is immense.

“However, for this region to remain competitive over the long term, the industry needs access to a pool of the best possible skilled human resources and be at the forefront of research and development,” adds Tilo.

The Vine Academy project is being established in conjunction with one of the oldest agricultural schools in South Africa, Martin Oosthuizen High School.

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As an established industry institution, the school was identified as a strategic asset in addressing human resources and research and development shortcomings.

Martin Oosthuizen has under-utilised land, water and infrastructure, all operationalised by Raisins SA since April 2021.

Raisins SA now intends to strengthen existing operations at the school with modern facilities by establishing a vine academy and model farm in line with its strategic objectives.

PepsiCo to transform South African supply

While the Kgodiso Development Fund operates independently from PepsiCo, one of the ways to assist its beneficiaries include providing a route to market.

PepsiCo SSA is a large procurer of raisins for its Safari and Simba brands for both the local and international markets.

It operates a large and technology advanced processing facility in Upington and sources raisins from both the Orange River and Vredendal areas.

According to Kgodiso Development Fund’s overall allocation plan, it will dish out R300-million (US$19.2m) to agricultural development to assist black-owned emerging farming enterprises to upscale their businesses and ensure that they are provided with opportunities to integrate into the value chain.

This will help transform the country’s agricultural landscape by developing a new generation of sustainable farming enterprises.

Additionally, R200-million (US$12.8m) will support education to enable initiatives that provide appropriate training and upskilling, thereby enhancing the skills pipeline in the country.

Further, the fund will allocate R100-million (US$6.4m) to SMMEs to provide incubation and technological support to those small businesses which can provide their goods or services to PepsiCo or its partners.

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