The Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa (CGA) yesterday announced that high schools across South Africa were this year offering a qualification in citrus production.
“Over 450 learners at 16 schools will be enrolled in the Citrus Secondary programme in 2024,” it said in a statement.
The Citrus Secondary programme had the potential to make a significant contribution to growing local skills pools to meet the demand for skilled workers, it said.
Projections indicated the citrus industry can grow with a further 100 000 jobs in the next eight years if all role-players work together to secure increased market access and improved export logistics, CGA said.
Pioneered by the Citrus Academy, a subsidiary of the CGA, the Citrus Secondary programme provided an opportunity for learners to achieve a recognised plant production qualification while at school.
It was offered by schools in citrus-producing regions. Sixteen schools will implement the programme – in Bonnievale and Riversdal in the Western Cape; Patensie, Kirkwood and Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape; Umzimkulu in KwaZulu-Natal; Kakamas in the Northern Cape; and Hoedspruit, N’wamitwa and Tzaneen in the Limpopo province.
Jacomien de Klerk, the general manager of the Citrus Academy, said: "It opens a path into an industry that can offer so many opportunities. It addresses a challenge that many school-leavers unfortunately face: having few marketable skills while not having access to tertiary education."
She said the initiative also supported CGA’s goals to continue the transformation of the citrus industry, and creating a “whole new, passionate generation” of entrants into the sector.
CGA said the citrus industry in South Africa exported 165.1 million (15kg) cartons for delivery to global markets in 2023.
“It sustains 140 000 livelihoods on farm level and brings in over R30 billion a year in export revenue,” it said.
School learners seeking information on this opportunity go to: https://citrusacademy.org.za/