RFG Foods’s Enterprise Development Initiative Bears Fruit

In one of the first land reform initiatives of its kind, a group of farm workers of the Constitution Road Wine Growers Company in Robertson in the Western Cape will be delivering their 2013 harvest to RFG Foods this week.

Constitution Road Wine Growers (Pty) Ltd (CRWG), a company which is 66% owned by 183 female farm workers, are, after five years of work, is bearing the fruit of a long-term enterprise development investment by RFG Foods and the Department of Agriculture that has allowed them to majority own and operate their own fruit farm.

Salt of the Earth

Martha Fielies, a supervisor of about 30 workers on Klipdrift, and one of the shareholders said: “I am proud to be part of the trust and to have a long term income for my family. Through this project, I will be the first person in my family who can send my children to college.”

RFG Foods identified CRWG as an enterprise development initiative and supported the company by providing an interest free loan of R1 450 000, which was used to establish 11ha of apricot and 9.5ha of peach orchards. The apricots are sold back to RFG Foods and used in their range of Rhodes Apricot products which includes Superfine Apricot jam, Chunky Apricot jam and Apricot halves. The company anticipates a 400-ton crop this season.

Building Trust with Enterprise Development

“RFG Foods is proud to be involved in CRWG, one of the first land reform initiatives that offer trustees a significant ownership stake in a commercially viable entity that has long term commercial agreements in place,” says Job Mpele, Group Human Resources Director of RFG Foods. The women farm workers, who are beneficiaries of the trusts, receive on-going technical and financial management training and are supported by the Robertson Co-operative Winery in running and managing the farm, as a result of the joint partnership.

The worker-shareholders in CRWG are represented by the Le Chasseur Workers’ Trust (21%), the Robertson East Workers’ Trust (26%), and the Robertson West Workers Trust’ (19%) along with Robertson Co-operative Winery Ltd (34%).The shareholder agreement makes provision for the three trusts to eventually own 100% of the shares within the company.