What does it mean to have a South African standard that is built on the principles of continuous improvement?

SIZA is a private South African standard which means it was established by the fruit industry to address a certain need that arises in the South African export community in agriculture. The programme operates as an independent entity, as required by global buyers, and has since its inception branched out to cater for a wide range of agricultural commodities, representing a multi-stakeholder, agri-wide membership of more than 40 different commodities. The baseline for the SIZA standards is the South African legislative requirements because naturally we cannot operate outside the law.  SIZA aims to enhance labour relations and better circumstances for all people living and working in agriculture.  Although this standard is based on South African legislation, and it takes into account our specific circumstances in South African agriculture we also have to ensure that the requirements of the standard are acceptable to the various global markets we want to accept this standard.  If we cannot assure buyers of our requirements and responsible practices, we will not be able to supply one standard to avoid duplication. SIZA is a voluntary programme and as an industry, we need to be proud of the programme and the fact that we strive and aim towards compliance and bettering the industry overall. SIZA forms part of a whole range of activities to facilitate trade and enhance consumer trust by demonstrating a commitment to high-quality and responsible ethical and environmental practices within the South African agricultural context.

The SIZA programme is built on a principle that we call Continuous improvement.  What does Continuous Improvement actually mean?  Continuous Improvement drives growth and success in both personal and professional realms. It is the unwavering commitment to consistently refine and enhance processes, products, or skills over time. This approach acknowledges that perfection is an elusive goal but believes that incremental advancements can lead to substantial improvements. In every-day terms, it refers to a business implementing continuous measures to better their business practices, such as:

  • Continuous training and awareness-raising amongst employees and responsible personnel
  • Evaluating risk-assessments consistently to see whether it can be adapted to be more effective
  • Looking at practices such as the grievance process and determining whether its as effective as it can be
  • Ensuring that previous corrective actions that were implemented, are continuously monitored to avoid non-conformance
  • Regularly engaging with employees to understand needs or changes in the workforce
  • Continuously monitoring water sources, energy efficiency and consumption to become more efficient as a business

Continuous improvement fosters a culture of learning, adaptability, and innovation, encouraging individuals and organisations to regularly assess their risks, performance, identify areas for development, and implement changes to achieve higher levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and excellence. Embracing this philosophy empowers individuals and businesses to stay competitive, adapt to evolving challenges, and ultimately reach their full potential.  Therefore, it is relevant to understand that you do not need to change or to do something new every year, but to focus on what you currently do and to try to do it more effectively.