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Innovative Practice South Africa: The inclusion and empowerment of farmers through partnerships

The case study of Thandi Fruit and Wine in South Africa shows that farmers were in need of support to meet the needs of the market. Vineyard and orchard skills were not enough to launch a successful farming operation. As a response, Thandi was built on a new business model based on empowerment through partnerships. It was started in 1996 by a farmer in the Elgin region of the Western Cape, Paul Cl├╝ver. The Thandi empowerment concept was based on an innovative business model. The fruit and wine were to be sold at the top end of the price ladder (as a brand) and in international markets. Although originated on empowerment farms, the products would have to stand or fall on the basis of their quality.

As the project unfolded, partnerships and corporate support services became increasingly important on sustaining it. A greater number of growers were necessary to secure volumes. New producers were selected to join the group. They had to meet specific criteria regarding quality of product and worker ownership. Firms had also to improve and establish international marketing networks. The target became mainly supermarkets in the UK and Europe. In 2005 more than 95% of all wine was exported and in mid-2006 approximately 90% of the Thandi fruits were exported.

Over a period of ten years the Thandi project has proved itself sustainable and a success.

This publication forms part of the Regoverning Markets project.

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