Boost for wine-makers

Sector part of agro-processing industry growth plan

Black wine-makers top the list of five key subsectors targeted for incentive scheme support by the Department of Trade and Industry in its drive to grow agro-processing in the Eastern Cape and other regions in the country.

This emerged from a joint Coega Development Corporation (CDC) and department agro-processing workshop held at the CDC’s Coega Business Centre this week.

They encouraged new investment in the agro-processing sector in the region and particularly in the Coega Special Economic Zone.

Wines of South Africa, which is mandated to promote South African wines abroad, confirmed the drive to increase the number of black winemakers, saying it had a close relationship with the department.

Representatives from more than 20 companies in the agriculture and agro-processing sector in the province took part in the event at Coega.

“The sector is a core target industry for the zone,” CDC spokesman Simlindele Manqina said.

“Among other reasons, our close proximity to the regional agricultural industry, such as the citrus industry in the Sundays River Valley and dairy operations in the region, make this sector a perfect fit for the Special Economic Zone.

“This means that the benefits for agro-processors include short logistical lines and all the benefits associated with the zone, including its close proximity to a port and access to skilled labour.”

Among others, the Coega zone is currently home to agro-processing companies such as Coega Dairy, Dynamic Commodities, and Famous Brands.

The workshop’s key focus points were the Agro-Processing Support Scheme, which is an incentive scheme devised by the department to develop and grow the sector, and to inform the Eastern Cape companies of the opening of the second application window of the scheme.

This will be open for submissions until January.

The department’s director of strategic partnerships and customer care, Mark Alard, said the zone was the right place to be for companies wishing to grow their business.

He named the key sub-sectors that the incentive scheme was targeting.

They were food and beverage processing, which included black winemakers, furniture manufacturing, fibre processing, feed production and fertiliser production.

“The scheme aims to increase capacity, create employment, boost competitiveness and contribute to transformation in these agro-processing sub-sectors,” he said.

The project development manager of the agro-processing sector for the Coega zone, Dr Keith du Plessis, said the agro-processing industry was vital for development in the Eastern Cape as it had the potential to create “sustainable employment up- and downstream”. Du Plessis said the CDC was also hard at work to create synergies among companies operating in the zone to provide more value to their presence.

It was also investing in infrastructure to accommodate start-up and smaller enterprises there, specifically those that wanted to operate in the agro-processing sector. Wines of South Africa spokeswoman Maryna Calow said extensive efforts were being made to bring more black wine-makers into the industry.

“There are a number of challenges, such as available land for vines and the costs involved in starting up,” she said.

“One way new entrants and others are getting around this is through purchasing grapes from other growers and then rebranding the wines once they are made.

“As Wines of South Africa, we pay a 20% levy which goes towards transformation of the sector.

“The department is obviously making a strong contribution towards transforming the industry through its incentive scheme,” she said.

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