SIZA, the Sustainability Initiative of South Africa, provides a platform for agricultural stakeholders to ensure ethically and environmentally sustainable trade. This programme, supported by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) with Skyvines contracted as the implementation partner, monitors care for the environment and compliance with labour legislation. Skyvines is an organisation which enables businesses by adding value to business through compliance to standards. They focus on risk which can either be eliminated or managed by effective management systems.
For a number of years, SIZA has been able to provide support to emerging growers through collaboration, partnerships, and funding provided by financial institutions, industry organisations, and the WCDoA. The aim has always been to build capacity while growing towards a level of compliance against the SIZA standards and South African legislation. SIZA ensures that emerging growers are aware of the SIZA standard and legislative requirements by providing hands-on assistance, a complete development and training programme, and partnerships with relevant organisations. These partnerships contribute to the success of guiding emerging growers through the process, resulting in growth, compliance, and eventually market access to local as well as global markets. Both the Citrus Growers Association Grower Development Company (CGA-GDC) and Hortgro are taking part in this programme to ensure that the emerging growers in these industries are becoming compliant with SIZA.
Interactive training webinars were developed to ensure that the necessary support can be provided even during challenging times. To raise awareness on base level, a range of social and environmental videos and posters were developed with the aim to help both growers and agri-workers to live and work more sustainably.
The process to assist emerging growers in gaining compliance entails the following:
- Step 1:
Training through formal Capacity Building workshops for both managers and owners of farms; as well as senior agri-worker employees such as supervisors, workers representatives and/or Trade Union shop stewards.
- Step 2:
Current management systems that are in place are formally evaluated through a GAP analysis which will lead to the development of additional Policies, Procedures, Risk assessments and Control forms needed in Ethical Trade and Environmentally Sustainable practices.
- Step 3:
Implementation of the quality systems through regular onsite visits.
The economic environment within which growers are operating continues to be characterised by unpredictability, uncertainty, risk, and agricultural markets that have become increasingly difficult for emerging growers to access or to maintain. With the SIZA emerging grower programme, we ensure that emerging growers become market-ready over a 3 year period and that they have assistance to maintain their compliance to stay compliant and market ready until they are ready to become self-sustainable.
Again, building partnerships and working together with other organisations who have mutual interest and sharing the same vision and goals, proves to be a valuable source to ensure the success of this programme. To drive a programme such as compliance, successful partnerships play an integral role in ensuring continuous improvement and working towards best practices.