New Vine Academy unlocks a world of opportunity for budding raisin farmers

Kgodiso Development Fund and Raisin SA officially open the Vine Academy in Northern Cape, providing critical skills and job creation within the community.

As part of its commitment to nurturing potential that drives economic growth and leads to a sustainable food system in South Africa, the Kgodiso Development Fund together with Raisins SA officially opened the Vine Academy and model farm in Kakamas, Northern Cape this week.

In line with the Kgodiso Development Fund's prioritisation of activities that support the growth and scaling of black-owned emerging farming enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises, the Vine Academy will provide classroom-based and practical training for emerging farmers and farm workers. It will also establish a “Model Farm”, which will serve as a research and development centre for raisin production and farming in South Africa.

The Vine Academy was founded in partnership with Martin Oosthuizen High School, one of the oldest agricultural schools in South Africa.  The Academy was identified as a strategic asset in addressing human resources as well as research and development gaps in the raisin industry.

“The development of farmers and farm workers is essential to the transformation of the entire food system in South Africa. Both the Vine Academy and the “Model Farm” form part of a critical initiative that will provide effective solutions to the agriculture challenges in South Africa,” explains Executive Director at the Kgodiso Development Fund, Diale Tilo. “This project will address key skills and knowledge gaps in our food system.” 

The Kgodiso Development Fund joined forces with Raisins SA a year ago, investing R12 million to address skills shortage, research, and development needs in the raisins sector. Investing in partnerships enables the Fund's purpose of creating a sustainable farming program through the “Model Farm” concept, which will provide training to farmers on the ground in agronomy, fertiliser, water, and plant protection.

“Creating a sustainable and competitive raisin industry in South Africa is our goal. Education plays a crucial role in the transformation of South Africa's agriculture industry, as well as the country's economic growth. Skills development should be treated as an investment that is strategic to this industry,” adds Ferdie Botha, CEO at Raisins SA, and continues “We value the idea of generating value through the creation of knowledge and the sharing of this knowledge amongst our value chain members to increase efficiency, build trust and most importantly positively impact our surrounding communities.”

The establishment of the Kgodiso Development Fund is one of PepsiCo SA’s public interest commitments, made to the government at the time of the acquisition of Pioneer Foods, and forms part of its strategic end-to-end sustainable transformation called PepsiCo Positive. Although independent of PepsiCo SA, the Fund collaborates with like-minded partners and develops solutions that address critical issues surrounding the country’s food security and hunger.

“It is the collaboration effort brought together by different stakeholders that makes this powerful – Having partnered with several stakeholders, our intention of co-creating innovative solutions with key partners and scaling the impact through catalytic investments is bringing about positive results that will benefit and uplift not only the industry but also the broader community,” Tilo concludes.

L-R: Ferdie Botha, CEO of Raisins SA, Setlakalane Molepo, Chairman Kgodiso Fund, Mase Manopole, Northern Cape MEC of agriculture, Diale Tilo, Exec Director of Kgodiso Fund.