SOUTHERN CAPE NEWS - A number of pomegranate farms in the Klein Karoo may be supplying in an international demand for pomegranates in the near future.
This is the vision of a recently formed partnership between the Garden Route District Municipal Council (GRDM) and the Calitzdorp Export Agri Hub.
The hub wants to see the 1% pomegranate international export market held by South Africa expanded. According to GRDM Municipal Manager Monde Stratu, the plan is to meet the demand for pomegranates during off-seasons to other parts of the world.
He said the GRDM's partnership with the hub was carefully considered, subsequent to available research about pomegranate exports from South Africa.
"The demand and supply factors relating to the industry, local soil analysis, climatic and environmental studies are some of the many factors we had to get insights into."
Garden Route District Mayor Memory Booysen said a 1 000-hectare piece of land will be acquired, of which 10% will be reserved for 10 black economic empowerment (BEE) farmers.
"Each of these farmers will receive 1% or 100 000m² to produce pomegranates and form part of the pomegranate crop value chain. We therefore fully support the export hub project because we will also be able to create a unique model for rural development in the region that can be duplicated elsewhere."
The project would see the establishment of an Agri village, housing approximately 600 farm workers who will own their own properties. "We anticipate that the project will create 1 800 permanent jobs and 2 000 seasonal jobs, pomegranate orchards and attract agri tourism."
The export hub, known as Celebratio, has already secured 30ha for the development of the Agri Village. "The Calitzdorp area is already known for exporting apples, pears, peaches, plums, grapes, and apricots. Celebratio has a packhouse for fresh fruit and will also build juicing, oil pressing and process facilities to enhance its business model," said Booysen.
The immediate need for the Calitzdorp Export Agri Hub was for a R600 000 injection to carry out a water study for the area. This phase, which was eventually funded by GRDM, includes a water study that involves the drilling of boreholes.
Subsequently, two desalination plants for reverse osmosis, capable of cleaning 60 000 of water per hour, were donated by the agri hub to GRDM. These plants have an original purchase value of R2,5 million.
According to Dirk Rudolph, the contracted geohydrologist, boreholes are currently being drilled in accordance with a geophysical survey that indicated that the most viable option would be to drill formations north-west of the pomegranate farm.
Booysen said research indicates that pomegranates require 6 000m³ water per hectare. Although this type of farming is still quite a young industry in South Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, studies indicate that Kannaland and Oudtshoorn offer the best microclimate for pomegranates in the southern part of Africa.
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