Media Alert: Minister Van Rensburg Promoting Agricultural Exports Abroad
The Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gerrit van Rensburg is today returning from a one week visit to Finland, Sweden and Germany, aimed at bolstering agricultural trade relations between the Western Cape Province and these trading partners.
Van Rensburg said the recent agricultural strikes in the Province led to his office receiving calls from concerned international trade partners. "I have had several meetings with major importers and senior government officials in Finland, Sweden and Germany. I assured them that Western Cape farmers adhere to all South African labour legislation, and also exceed the minimum standards prescribed by various international ethics codes".
Van Rensburg said that apple, pear and deciduous fruit exports alone amount to R700 million per year to these three countries, and it is therefore important to maintain good trade relations. "We are also discussing the possibility of increasing our export portfolio where possible".
Van Rensburg met with Magnus Kindbom, State Secretary to the Minister of Rural Affairs in Sweden; as well as senior representatives of the Swedish Systembogalet, the Swedish state wine import monopoly. "The Systembogalet raised concerns regarding the negative international press coverage the farm strikes received. I could assure them we are working very hard to improve on the social challenges we face, and also reaffirmed our commitment to local and international ethical codes such as Fairtrade".
Van Rensburg is accompanied by Willem Paulse, the Western Cape Farm Worker of the Year for 2012. Part of his prize money included an overseas trip. Van Rensburg also met with Western Cape Empowerment farmers at Fruit Logistica in Berlin, Germany. They are visiting Europe as part of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Programme. This Programme assists new farmers with finding local as well as international markets for their produce.