SIZA was originally established in 2008 by the fruit industry to monitor and sustain ethical and environmental trade within the South African agricultural sector. In April 2016 it become a free-standing independent and self-sustainable organisation governed by an independent Board of Directors who represent the diverse membership and value chain that financially sustain the programme. As a membership-based programme catering for more than 40 different commodities across all nine provinces in South Africa, it is important for SIZA to ensure there is sufficient representation when it comes to the strategic direction and decision making.
It will always be important to the programme to facilitate effective collaboration and engagement across the value chain by ensuring all aspects that are important in the drive toward sustainability are represented fairly. To deepen SIZA’s understanding, management, and strategic objectives, the SIZA Board composition includes the following:
- 1x Independent Chair;
- 1x Financial Director;
- 1x DALRRD/Labour/Civil Society/FIVCRT Representative;
- 2x Commercial Agri-Producers (represented nationally);
- 1x Fruit South Africa Representative;
- 1x Emerging Producer (represented nationally);
- 2x Trade Representatives (local and international buyers);
- 1x Environmental Specialist; and
- 1x Ethical Trade Specialist.
As the SIZA Board resumes its efforts in ensuring the programme brings about effective change and improvement within the industry. The Board is therefore advised by specialist advisory and audit reference groups. The SIZA Board also receives inputs from these ethical and environmental advisory and reference groups in terms of ethical and environmental matters in regards to the SIZA Standards and audit methodology.
One of the main objectives of SIZA is to cooperate with any and all interested stakeholders on several levels to drive continuous improvement within the value chain. SIZA believes in forming partnerships which support its efforts in ensuring a credible and globally accepted programme. Initiatives with global platforms such as GLOBALG.A.P. and Sedex are among these partnerships which create a cost-effective basis to ensure buyers and markets in South Africa and abroad have full visibility on their supply chains. These visibilities include transparency on the risks and audit data to better evaluate the shortcomings and remediation needed to ensure sustainable trade.
Engagement and mutual agreements with retailers across the UK, EU, and US markets further strengthens the Standards and ensure that unique and focused needs and requirements drive a better workplace, a more protected workforce, socially responsible management practices and environmentally sustainable environment.
Industry/Market Collaboration and Partnerships
SIZA continues to participate actively with Fruit South Africa and other agricultural industry structures to provide ethical and environmental insights and guidance towards adherence to South African legislation.
Agriculture is regarded as an essential sector to expand and transform the South African economy via job creation and rural development. There has been an observed trend of increasing agricultural exports over the years, as South African products must compete with highly subsidised products from developed countries.
The South African agri-industry is faced with sanitary, phytosanitary, and private measures, including social and environmental responsibility measures, that continually become more stringent. These measures, usually called standards, have long been part of the requirements set by various retailers, and suppliers have been subjected to an increasing number of technical food safety, ethical, and environmental audits to provide assurance that these requirements are being met. Such standards prescribed by most of the major retailers in developed countries can prevent market access, particularly for emerging grower farmers who find that the cost of compliance prohibits entry to these markets. SIZA liaises with various organisations and programmes such as the HORTGRO/Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber (DFDC), Citrus Growers Association Grower Development Company, Department of Trade and Industry, and other stakeholders across the supply chain (retailers and importers) to ensure that support for the implementation of the SIZA programme is ongoing. SIZA is also engaged in talks with AgriSETA, financial institutions, the Department of Employment and Labour, and several other organisations for additional funding.
Engagement with Labour and Government/NGOs
The SIZA governance structure makes provision for labour and Government/NGO representation on the Board. Currently Mr Atwell Nazo, a member of the SAFTU National Executive Committee and the President of the Food and Allied Workers Union – FAWU, fills the seat on the SIZA Board. Mr. Stiaan Kotze, Control Biodiversity Officer: Competent Authority and Acting Biosecurity Director has also been co-opted to represent the Department of Environmental Affairs on the SIZA Board in an oversight capacity. SIZA will continue to share effective communication to inform unions, labour, and civil society members of SIZA activities so that they can register as members on the MySIZA platform and to ensure their support and commitment towards the programme.
SIZA works with various stakeholders and institutions to implement the SIZA programme. We engage with various government departments, including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Employment and Labour, and the Department of Trade and Industry as part of their ongoing programmes and projects. SIZA also works closely with a range of retailers, both locally and internationally, where resources have been made available to support growers and workers with ongoing awareness of ethical trade in agriculture.
SIZA and The Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association t/a WIETA also agreed an arrangement through which equivalence between the programmes is recognised through a combined audit approach especially for producers with diversified crops.
In support of environmental stewardship as an integral offering within sustainability, SIZA partnered with the World Wide Fund for Nature, South Africa (WWF-SA) to develop and roll out an environmental module and appropriate tools to support improvement in environmental indicator measures and management.
SIZA has trade relations through Sedex and GLOBALG.A.P. and currently across the three platforms, SIZA is accepted by 291 businesses that operate in 68 different markets/countries. SIZA is in regular contact with these buyers to keep them updated at all times.
In 2018, Stronger Together launched a new global supply chain project to promote responsible employment in the wine and fruit growing industries in South Africa which was funded by the United Kingdom Home Office Modern Slavery Innovation Fund, the project is implemented in partnership with WIETA and SIZA.
The programme is committed to engaging with organisations that improve and further develop the Standards and their requirements to create a more rigorous and thorough outcome during a third-party audit evaluation. By focusing on socially responsible practices and environmental stewardship, the SIZA programme actively drives change in two of the most crucial areas pertaining to sustainability. This furthermore ensures a credible supply chain in South Africa, all while creating further inputs, oversight, and demand from global role-players.