South African Citrus Project

'In South Africa, there is a compelling need to empower disadvantaged workers.  The extra resources that Fairtrade delivers, and the underpinning of Fairtrade standards with the national programme to encourage black economic empowerment, can contribute to that process'.
Harriet Lamb, Executive Director, Fairtrade Foundation.



Conrad James
Navel oranges ©Naomi Kranhold

Since autumn 2007, the Fairtrade Foundation has been working on a project with Sainsbury’s to increase the amount of Fairtrade citrus coming from South Africa.

This project has entailed working very closely with Sainsbury’s, their suppliers and our FLO-CERT colleagues to manage the supply chains coming from South Africa. One of the key issues for Fairtrade producers in South Africa is meeting government requirements on black economic empowerment.



Background to Black Economic Empowerment

The apartheid system used race to control access to South Africa’s productive resources and access to skills. When it came to an end in 1994, 85% of agricultural land was held by the minority white farmers. The agricultural sector was dominated by white-owned large-scale farms whilst the black [1]  workforce was largely oppressed and uneducated. The formerly disadvantaged groups in South Africa therefore have a very small role in ownership of fresh fruit production. 

Fairtrade producers in South Africa must meet requirements based on the black economic empowerment policies of the South African government. Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) is an empowerment model unique to South Africa [2].

The objective of the Broad–Based Economic Empowerment Act 53 of 2003 is to establish a legislative framework for the promotion of economic empowerment throughout the black population. The act aims to transform the economy so that black people have more access to opportunity and are included in the economy in a meaningful way. The act also aims to change the racial composition of ownership, management and skilled occupations in order to empower black people.

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Codes of Good Practice were passed in February 2007, which means they are now part of national legislation. These codes provide a framework with targets and a scoring system to measure levels of empowerment within South African enterprises.

Fairtrade in South Africa

The aim of Fairtrade is the economic and social development of small-scale farmers and workers on plantations. Producers have to comply with Fairtrade standards in order to become certified. The Fairtrade standards state that if national legislation sets a higher standard on an issue than FLO, then the higher standard supersedes FLO standards. However, FLO must interpret national legislation and adapt their policies to ensure the principles of Fairtrade are maintained. This only applies to legislation that contributes to the overall aims of Fairtrade.

Therefore, FLO-CERT has implemented a new policy for South Africa (effective from 1 September 2007) which adopts the codes of B-BBEE to measure the levels of worker empowerment.

Workers at Luthando c Naomi Kranhold 
Workers at Luthando ©Naomi Kranhold
In addition to the generic Fairtrade standards, this policy requires producers in South Africa that depend on hired labour to actively contribute to specific aspects of B-BBEE, to ensure that their employees are empowered both through Fairtrade and B-BBEE.



Who are the Fairtrade producers in South Africa?

Both new producers as well as existing producers have participated in the project to increase the amount of Fairtrade citrus from South Africa that Sainsbury’s will have in store. There are now over 20 producers in South Africa who grow Fairtrade certified citrus for the market. Below you will find a brief background on a few of these groups, two that are new to Fairtrade and one that has been certified for a few years. 

Existing producer:                       Citrusdal-Bergendal
Newly certified producers:          Endulini Fruit Estate                    New Dawn Farms



Existing producer: Citrusdal-Bergendal


Bergendal vineyards ©Naomi Kranhold

Bergendal Joint Body ©Naomi Kranhold

Citrusdal – Bergendal has been certified as a Fairtrade producer since 2004 and are certified for Fairtrade wine, Rooibos tea, oranges and soft citrus (clementines, mandarins and mineolas). They hope to increase the volumes of citrus they sell to Sainsbury's. They also grow deciduous fruit, raise sheep and grow bucha (a herbal plant).

Citrusdal – Bergendal is a family farm situated on the Paleisheuwel Road near Citrusdal. The farm is 1,700 hectares in total with 50% mountain area. Citrusdal – Bergendal comprises of Bergendal Boerdery (farm), Bergendal Rooibos including a tea court where rooibos tea is processed, Maneberg pty which owns Maanskloof farm, and a fruit packhouse.

The Bergendal Workers Trust is comprised of 91 workers of whom 70% are permanent and 30% are seasonal workers who met the membership certain criteria when the trust was established. The same workforce works on both farming units – Bergendal and Maanskloof. The Bergendal Workers Trust owns a 50% share in Bergendal Rooibos and the tea court, and a 32% share in Maneberg.

Regular meetings with workers and their representatives are held. Management and trustees of the Bergendal Workers Trust meet on a weekly basis to discuss production related issues. In addition, annual general meetings are held where directors report on the company’s financial situation.

In addition to the expertise of management and administrative staff members, a number of professional consultants are used to provide advice in production processes, such as the application of fertilizers and agrochemical use.

A group of 55 permanent workers, 68 seasonal and 8 temporary workers are employed by Bergendal Boerdery and these workers work on Bergendal, Maneberg and Bergendal Rooibos.  There are 3 other permanent female workers who work in the crèche and school. Temporary workers are described as those workers who have been appointed on a probation period after which they qualify for permanent status. All seasonal workers are employed directly by Citrusdal – Bergendal. There is a Xhosa-speaking team comprising of workers from Cape Town and Somerset West in the Western Cape, from Queenstown in the Eastern Cape and from Upington in the Northern Cape. The Afrikaans-speaking seasonal team are recruited from the farm community and from the local Citrusdal community. Seasonal workers work from December to February when deciduous fruit and tea are harvested and during May to end of August when citrus is harvested. They also work in the field during other months of the year.  With the exception of workers who commute to the farm from nearby Citrusdal, all seasonal workers live on the farm for the whole season.

Paul Afrikaner ©Naomi Kranhold   Paul Afrikaner, Treasurer of the Joint Body at Bergandal. 'The circumstances that we work under have changed eg if chemicals are sprayed in the orchards, we are no longer allowed to work during that time. The premium money that we get improves life in the community. The workers also get training. This is very good.'

Training is an integral part of workers' development and a number of courses are offered every year and facilitated by training organisations. For example, a qualified visitor from the USA provided training on financial management, food hygiene and health issues such as HIV/AIDS, STDs, and training on conflict resolution was offered to all employees by an independent organisation.

A community hall and football pitch has been built on the farm using the Fairtrade premium money. The new community hall is used for weddings, church services, sports and youth clubs. The balance of premium was spent on various training opportunities. 


New producer: Endulini Fruit Estate

Endulini Fruit Estate, near Patensie in the Gamtoos Valley in Eastern Cape Province will be supplying Sainsbury’s with oranges, soft citrus and lemons.  There are empowerment projects on two of its farms: Galactic Deals 139 (Pty) Ltd and Endulini Sundays River Fruit. 

Galactic Deals, a farm of 36 ha previously owned by the Ferreira family, is close to Endulini Fruit Estate. In 2004 the Ferreiras agreed with the management of Endulini that they wanted to collaborate on empowerment projects for their workers. Based on this decision, Endulini Fruit Estate sold 49% of their shares in Galactic Deals to the Endulini Development Trust. The 28 coloured shareholders of Endulini Development Trust funded their purchase of the shares through Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) grants. Shareholders have all been employed by Endulini FE for a period of at least ten years and the term of employment was one of the most important criteria in the identification of prospective shareholders.

After successfully establishing the first empowerment project, Endulini Fruit Estate felt that they had the capacity and knowledge to start and support another empowerment project. Endulini Sundays River Fruit, a farm in the Sunland district in the Sundays Rivers Valley, was jointly bought by the Ferreira family and the Endulini Sundays River Worker Trust in 2005. The Ferreira family has a 60% shareholding in this venture and the workers trust owns 40%. The 50 coloured shareholders in this venture also funded their shares through LRAD grants. Thirty six of the shareholders are seasonal packhouse workers who have been in the employment of Endulini Fruit since 1993 and 14 are permanent employees of Endulini Sundays River Fruit.

Thembile ElvisMkalakhalo©Naomi Kranhold   For Thembile Elvis Mkalakahlo, who works as an irrigator at Endulini, Fairtrade represents a new independence. ' My dream is to be able to do my own self all the things that I was always helped with. I hope that Fairtrade will be able to help with the education of my children.

As with all Fairtrade hired labour set ups, a Joint Body was established following an awareness raising and training session on Fairtrade. The Joint Body was elected in a democratic process and included the election of both permanent and seasonal workers.

What is the Joint Body?

The economic development criteria within the Fairtrade Hired Labour Standards ensure the use of the Fairtrade premium is for the social and economic benefit of the workers, their families and their communities.

The premium cannot be used for the benefit of the company owners. A Joint Body (JB) is set up, comprising elected worker representatives and a minority of management representatives whose role is to assist and support the JB in the management of the premium fund. The premium is invested in projects agreed by the JB following consultation with the workforce. Workers’ representatives receive appropriate training in areas such as finance, record keeping, and administration in order to build their capacity and ability to deal with their additional JB responsibilities.

Beside the premium administration, it is expected that the establishment of JBs will have other positive outcomes such as the development of good working relationships between the management and workers; the empowerment of members through the process of working with Fairtrade; the acquisition of skills in leadership and communication, project planning and project management necessary to function effectively; and developing the capacity to operate without further assistance.

New producer: New Dawn Farms

New Dawn Farms is situated in the Hoedspruit area in Limpopo Province. They hope to  supply Sainsbury’s with oranges and lemons.

In 2004, as a result of new legislation, the Moletele community in the Hoedspruit area made a claim for the return of land that had been taken from them during apartheid. Their claim was successful so the Regional Land Claims Commission of Limpopo started to look for white farmers in the area who were willing to sell their farms and 28 farmers were interested. The farms were then bought from the existing farmers and ownership transferred to the Moletele Community Property Association (MCPA).

Lemons c Naomi Kranhold    The MCPA then entered into a joint venture with Strategic Farm Management (SFM), a company that would be responsible for the management of the business under the name New Dawn Farms. SFM will be responsible for the overall management of the farms for the next 10 years and a large part of their remit is to ensure skills are transferred to the Moletele community so that the MCPA will be able to take over complete management of the farm at the end of that term.

The black shareholding in New Dawn Farms is through the MCPA. The MCPA has 15,367 members (9,000 are women). Eighty six of the MCPA members are workers on New Dawn Farms (6 permanent men, 16 temporary men, 4 permanent women and 60 temporary women).

As with all Fairtrade hired labour set ups, New Dawn Farms elected their Joint Body members following an awareness raising and training session on Fairtrade. Since New Dawn Farms has two production sections and one pack house, it was agreed that the Joint Body should be representative of all the sections. Permanent and seasonal workers from all the sections were nominated.

In addition to new producers New Dawn and Endulini there are seven recently certified producers who have not yet benefited from sales of Fairtrade produce through which they earn Fairtrade premium. 

'I hope that Fairtrade will be able to help with the education of my children' says Thembile Elvis Mkalakahlo an irrigator at Sunday’s River Farming Trust. 

'We are not yet selling our fruit; we only got our certificate last month. So I have seen no changes, but believe that the change will come.' Buyiswa Ndyenga, SRCC

[1] Black people: B-BBEE 2003 defines black people as African, Coloured and Indian people

[2]Broad-Based: B-BBEE 2003 means the economic empowerment of all black people including women, workers, youth, people with disabilities and people living in rural areas.


Buy Fairtrade citrus


You can buy citrus from South Africa carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark from:

Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Booths, Budgens and Marks & Spencer

Look for the FAIRTRADE Mark on products. It’s your guarantee that disavantaged farmers and workers in the developing world are getting a better deal.