About 40% of the black population in South Africa is unemployed and the white minority still owns 85% of agricultural land, according to the Fairtrade Foundation.
Sun Orange Farms, which supplies Tesco and The Co-op, is a 240ha citrus farm in Sunday’s River Valley in the Eastern Cape province that has transformed itself into a Fairtrade operation.
When apartheid ended in 1994, farm owner James Hannah answered the government’s call to work towards joint ownership with
black workers. The farm is now a ‘black empowerment project’ supplying Fairtrade produce as part of the Thandi initiative. Through the scheme it has developed sophisticated computer-controlled systems to improve water and fertiliser application, and the premiums it charges go directly towards improving the community.
One of the social projects under way is the building of a crèche. Founder Nompulelo Ngcambele had been forced to teach 70 children in her own home, but the desperate need for premises can now be met with the Fairtrade premiums.
A training and development centre is also being planned for HIV/Aids education and vocational training.