A new agreement between Culdevco and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) for a further 10-year period was signed on Wednesday, 21 March 2018 in what can be described as ‘a best-practice step to commercialise home-grown’ cultivars locally and internationally.

According to the agreement, Culdevco, amongst other players, is being tasked with the commercialisation of specific deciduous fruit cultivars developed by the ARC in South Africa and strategic territories abroad. Culdevco was established in 2006 when the South African Deciduous Fruit Industry and the ARC formed a joint venture to commercialise all ARC-bred varieties. This particular agreement represents an improved version of the one signed in 2006.

“As with all things, everything changes with time,” said Culdevco chairperson, Dappie Smit. “The environment within which cultivars are being managed and commercialised in the deciduous fruit industry has changed substantially over the past number of years and new negotiations and agreements had to be drawn up that would create a win-win for all parties involved.”

Culdevco will in future evaluate, commercialise and promote selected ARC cultivars locally amongst growers. “The aim is to keep the home-grown advantage before we commercialise cultivars abroad,” Smit said. The recent launch of Joybells, a new table grape variety, at Fruit Logistica in Berlin, hosted within our Department of Trade (dti) pavilion, is an example of a mutually beneficial multi-stakeholder collaboration between the ARC, the fruit industry and the dti.

ARC CEO, Dr. Shadrack Moephuli said, “Partnerships such as the one with Culdevco enable the ARC to directly disseminate technologies and scientific solutions to farmers and their associated organisations for use in commercial enterprises. This, in turn, facilitates the competitiveness and sustainability of the South African agriculture sector. The net effect is market access and sustainable jobs for our society. We are therefore confident that this agreement will strengthen the relationship between Culdevco, the deciduous fruit sector and the ARC for the growth of all South African farmers, with specific targets to bring black agri-entrepreneurs into the industry value chain.”

Commercial development of ARC-bred varieties has already made a significant impact on the South African Deciduous Fruit Industry. This impact is clearly reflected in the number of new cultivars that have been released to the industry during the last 20 years, as well as the foreign exchange earned through exporting these cultivars to countries abroad. In total 10 pome (apples and pears) fruit, 11 table grape and 67 stone fruit cultivars have been released to the South African Deciduous Fruit Industry during this period.

All these varieties will be of great benefit to the South African Deciduous Fruit Industry as they have been specifically developed for South African growing conditions. – Press release