South African Fruit and Wine Growers Consider Carbon Footprint

wine south africa photo

Photo credit: Prospect Wines

The British government has teamed up with South Africa's food and wine industry leaders to research the carbon footprint of South African fruit and wine exports. The research will be used to address how the industry can become carbon neutral without cutting crucial jobs for the poor and increasing the demand for South African products.

About 30 percent of South African wine and 20 percent of its fresh produce is exported to the United Kingdom, making it the most important export market for South Africa. The £200,000 carbon footprint initiative is coordinated by the Deciduous Fruit Producers Trust and funded by the UK's Department for International Development through the South African based ComMark Trust. The project includes the development of an online assessment tool that can be accessed by all farmers to input data on farming variables (including energy input and power costs) to calculate their individual, and eventually the industry's, carbon footprint.

"This research will enable the industry here – one of the biggest wine exporters in the world – to understand the carbon 'cost' they pose to the environment," said UK Trade and Development Minister Gareth Thomas during the study launch in Pretoria in July. "This is crucial to maintaining South Africa’s competitive position in global fruit and wine export markets in order to continue to employ local people."

The initiative highlights the quandary for many consumers thinking about food miles: fight poverty by supporting products from developing countries or fight climate change by buying local?

The agricultural sector provides employment to about one million people in South Africa -- about 7.5 percent of the country's total workforce. Agriculture generates almost $4 billion in revenue, with exports from the fruit and wine sector contributing about $1 billion.

According the UK government, seven out of 10 Africans depend on agriculture and the environment for their livelihoods. This included several million people who relied partly on sales of fruit, vegetables, cocoa, coffee, tea and other agricultural commodities to the UK.:: Via IPS, DFID
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