The SIZA Emerging Grower Programme is an initiative aimed at supporting and empowering new and aspiring growers within the agricultural industry as part of transformation initiatives. This comprehensive programme spans over a three-year duration and is designed to assist growers who have never been audited before. Seeing that the majority of the SIZA requirements are based on legislation, we believe that requirements cannot be lower for businesses starting up. Therefore, we designed this programme to support businesses over a 3-year period in their compliance journey. The programme’s objectives are centred on promoting sustainability and success within the agricultural industry by assisting growers in becoming compliant with market requirements as offered by the SIZA programme.

Key features of the SIZA Emerging Grower Programme include:

  1. Hands-on Guidance: The programme offers practical, hands-on guidance to help emerging growers understand and navigate the SIZA platform and requirements. This guidance covers topics related to sustainability, compliance, and best practices in farming.
  2. On-site Visits: On-site visits are crucial for providing personalised support and ensuring that growers implement the required policies and standards effectively.
  3. Policy Development and Implementation: Emerging growers receive support in developing and implementing policies that align with the sustainability and compliance standards set by SIZA. This is essential for ensuring that their farming operations meet the necessary criteria.

The programme is supported by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WC DoA), which provides funding for the Social and Environmental programme’s implementation among emerging growers. SIZA also partners with industry associations such as HORTGRO, SATI and CGA-GDC in its aim to identify growers who may benefit from this programme in an effort to stay ahead of compliance and access niche markets. These partnerships between SIZA, the industry, and the WC DoA demonstrate the commitment of government entities and the agricultural sector to the development of sustainable and successful farming operations as part of transformation initiatives.

As the journey towards compliance and sustainability is an ongoing process, the growers are in varying phases of the programme. In total, there are twenty-one growers who are actively participating in the programme, ranging from Pome and Stone fruit producers to Citrus and Table Grape producers. The programme also recently welcomed six exotic cheese producers to assist in becoming compliant with the SIZA Social Standard. These cheeseries supply some of these products to well-known retailers, and it is positive to see the interest in the SIZA programme beyond fruit and vegetables.

It’s encouraging to note that the producers involved in the SIZA Emerging Grower Programme have a positive and enthusiastic outlook towards compliance and the benefits the programme brings to the overall sustainability of the business. These businesses appreciate the guidance and in-person assistance they receive from SIZA, which is critical for their success in business and meeting various market requirements for local and global supply. The programme further serves as a valuable resource for the next generation of producers, contributing to the overall sustainability and prosperity of the agricultural sector in South Africa.