Fairtrade citrus from South Africa comes to New York City
by Tad Thompson | August 16, 2010
Fairtrade-certified summer citrus from South Africa was featured in 16 Food
Emporium stores in Manhattan the third week of August.
This promotion was organized by importer Fisher Capespan, based in
Gloucester City, NJ. Fisher Capespan President Marc Solomon and South
African citrus grower Gerrit van der Merwe presided over samplings of the
Fairtrade fruit Aug. 16 in an upscale Food Emporium that is within the
foundation of Manhattan's 59th Street Bridge.
Mr. van der Merwe is chairman of the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum.
The Navel orange samples were grown at the Cedar Citrus farm near
Citrusdal, which Mr. van der Merwe jointly owns with 36 of his employees. The
joint venture is one of 15 similar Harvest of Hope operations and is funded in
part by all the farmers' citrus exports to the United States, according to a
press release from the Western Cape Citrus organization.
The citrus forum said that Fairtrade is "the organized social movement and
market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries
obtain better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement
advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as social and
environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing
countries to developed countries."
The Navel oranges promoted at the Food Emporiums are part of a
comprehensive South African economic empowerment program launched 11
years ago. The program, Harvest of Hope, is part of an ownership and
development program for South African workers on citrus farms belonging to
growers who are members of the Western Cape Citrus Forum.
Mr. Solomon told The Produce News Aug. 17 that it was good to have Mr. van
der Merwe present at the sampling in part because the appearance of a
grower made it easier for consumers to relate to the Navels' source.
The Cedar Citrus Harvest of Hope partnership between Mr. van der Merwe and
his employees was established in 1998 when he donated a 100-acre parcel of
land to the partnership. Since then, 36,000 trees of the best citrus cultivars
have been planted to ensure the highest export quality possible, according to
the forum's press release.
Mr. van der Merwe said that the Harvest of Hope projects support a wide
range of development initiatives, including skills development and transfer,
education and training, health care (with a particular focus on dealing with
HIV and AIDS), child care and leisure time development. "These projects create
an asset base for farm employees to exercise at their discretion, allowing
them to secure a sustainable future for their families," the forum noted.