Building capacity in the trade chain

CONTACT DETAILS:Junette Davids: +27 21 526 0474 /
DURATION: Two years
LEAD INSTITUTION: Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum
Beneficiary: All fruit sectors

Deregulation of the South African fresh fruit export industry in 1997 created a new market dynamic. The control of single channel marketing organisations fell away, which compelled fruit export companies to develop individually. It also led to the fragmentation of the institutional memory of the industry. The Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (FPEF) foresaw the critical need to preserve the intellectual property of the fruit industry and pioneered the publishing of a set of nine trade chain manuals in 2002. It was the first time that the entire fresh fruit supply chain was covered in book format.

The Fresh Fruit Export Trade Chain Manuals – then and now

  • The first set of trade chain manuals was successfully used to train more than 300 previously disadvantaged individuals, including farm and pack house employees and Top of the Class (TOC) students. (The TOC project was initiated by the FPEF almost a decade ago and was initiated throughout most of South Africa.)
  • In later years, the original manuals were updated to satisfy growing training demands. The outcome was a consolidated handbook, published in English and Afrikaans (Harvest to Home/ Boord tot Bord) with an accompanying CD Rom. The Basic Trade Chain Manual provides a general overview of the entire fresh fruit supply chain.
  • As the TOC project progressed and students graduated, the need for more specialised material became apparent. Several industry experts shared their knowledge and contributed to three new manuals in a project, co-sponsored by the Post-Harvest Innovation (Phi) Programme.
  •  In 2010, one intermediate and one advanced trade chain manual was published.
  • The Intermediate Trade Chain Manual incorporates all South African fresh fruit sectors, whilst the Advanced Citrus manual is commodity specific. An Advanced Pome Trade Chain Manual is nearing completion.

Training tools and incentives facilitate technology transfer

  • The FPEF trade chain manuals are training tools that provide the theoretical component of every TOC course.
  • The books and CDs are the catalysts for a successful course, but the life skills imparted to students remain at the core.
  • Training incentives are an important aspect – the highlight to every TOC course is the award to the winning student.
  • In 2010, Theresa Jonkers won an internship with Tesco in the United Kingdom as the top student of a women-only course. “The TOC course was challenging, but as a group of women we learnt so much about the South African fresh fruit value chain and ourselves. If everyone can learn to communicate, share knowledge and respect each other, it will make a big difference in the workplace.”  Theresa Jonkers.
  • Sophie Nouse, an employee of Triple D farms in Kakamas, was top of the class in 2011. She was overjoyed with her prize – a visit to Fruit Logistica in Berlin. “I realised that success is not about where you come from – it is about hard work, confidence and the effort you are willing to invest.” Sophie Nouse.

Broadening the focus to empower smallholder farmers

  • As training tools, the trade chain manuals were initially intended for farm and pack house workers. The current focus is on smallholder farmers and many of the TOC courses are presented exclusively for this target group.
  • In a previous initiative, fourteen smallholder farmers were selected from TOC training courses and sponsored by the Phi Programme to attend the 2009 Eurofruit Congress Southern Hemisphere. The aim was to assist them and aspiring fruit exporters to gain a better understanding of the functioning of international fruit exports.

Benefits to industry

  • The FPEF trade chain manuals serve very important industry needs –they are used for training, as useful reference guides for anyone involved in the fruit industry, and to attract international donor funding.
  • The first set of manuals set a benchmark, whereas later manuals were written according to the requirements of specific target markets.
  • The training tools provided by this project, as well as the related training incentives, help to facilitate technology transfer and to build capacity in the South African fresh fruit trade chain.