WWF-SA have recently teamed up with Blue North on an exciting project to develop the Sustainable Fruit Initiative (SFI). The SFI is a sustainability initiative tailored to the South African fruit sector, intended to drive and inspire change from conventional farming practices, to those which will hopefully build greater system resilience in the future.The SFI will focus solely on environmental aspects (as opposed to the Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (SIZA), which focuses on the social aspect of sustainability in the South African fruit sector), under five key criteria:
- Soil; and
Like SIZA (The SA Fruit Industry’s Ethical Trade Program), the SFI will go through the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP), which is a international benchmarking process designed to ensure that the core values of the SFI are aligned with, and are recognised as being equivalent to the core values of other global sustainability initiatives.
Where we are to date:
While the primary intention of the SFI is to promote best practice in the South African fruit sector, the legal requirements relevant to farming form, without a doubt, the foundation or backbone to such an initiative. Over the past two and a half months, I have been compiling and condensing all the relevant legislation – a task far easier said than done!
With this complete, we are moving into the stakeholder mapping phase, to identify the most influential players across four pilot areas in the South African fruit sector:
- the Elgin/Grabouw area (contained in the Palmiet River catchment);
- the Citrusdal/Clanwilliam/Vredendal area (contained in the Olifants River catchment);
- the Hankie/Patensie area (contained in the Gamtoos River catchment); and
- the Nelspruit/White River area (contained in the Komati River catchment).
Each of these areas are obviously geographically separate, but the type of fruit farmed in each area also differs significantly.
This is an extremely exciting initiative, which should gain considerable traction in the South African fruit sector over the months to come – so watch this space!