Phase Two of an enterprise development project undertaken by Rhodes Food Group and the Department of Agriculture has seen Constitution Road Wine Growers Ltd (CRWG) open a fully-operational fruit handling depot to service the requirements of producers in the Robertson area. CRWG now owns and operates the most functional fruit-handling and grading facility of its kind in the region.
The depot, which became operational in November 2014, was funded with a R1 500 000 interest-free loan from Rhodes Food Group, backed by an innovative and mutually beneficial repayment agreement. The depot has already processed approximately 13 000 tonnes of apricots, peaches, pears, sultana grapes and figs from 38 producers.
In 2008, Rhodes Food Group identified CRWG, a company which is 66 per cent owned by 183 female farm workers, as an opportunity for community empowerment and provided the necessary funding to establish 11ha of apricot and 9.5ha of peach orchards on Klipdrif Farm – the tract of land owned by CRWG, and on which the new depot is situated.
Hansie Voslchenk, manager at CRWG says, ‘The depot on the Klipdrif farm is more convenient for farmers who no longer need to drive their freights into town for inspection and grading.’ At 10 000m2 the new facility is spacious, provides shaded storage areas, purpose-built delivery bays, and cement work areas that reduce dust pollution and minimise blemishing of fruit. ‘We will continue to support the evolving ambitions of CRWG,’ says Job Mpele, group human resources director at Rhodes Food Group. ‘We also plan to collaborate further on initiatives that streamline and add value to the supply-chain, particularly those where financial empowerment can be nurtured in previously disadvantaged communities,’ Mpele concludes.