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Date: 12 March, 2004
The three wines from the CCDO.
Charlotte Haines-Lyon visits the Citrusdal Community Development
Organisation in South Africa, whose farms produce three Fairtrade
How often do you wonder if the extra
few pence you pay for fair trade products really makes a difference?
To many people who have watched holiday
programmes full of long beaches and luxurious game parks in South
Africa, the need for fair trade in this particular country is surely
a bit of puzzle?
Well after spending some time in the country and visiting Citrusdal,
I can tell you two things: 1) Women dont sweat, they
glow is a lie promulgated by people living in cold grey countries.
2) The extra money you pay when buying Traidcraft wine, really does
make a difference to people.
Citrusdal is a small town of 5000, two hours drive north of Cape
Town, sitting at the foot of the Cederburg mountain range. Its predictable
hot dry climate - it was 39 degrees when I visited - provides ideal
conditions for vineyards and fruit growing.
Once upon a time in South Africa, the majority
of vineyards worked on what was called the 'Dop system' through
which workers were partly paid in alcohol.
The managers of Citrusdal Cellars.
All photos: Charlotte Haines Lyon
De Witt La Grange, CEO of the Citrusdal Cellars
who provide three wines for Traidcraft, explains the system as it
was when he was a child on a farm: At 5am the people got 25mls
of wine, then at 10am theyd get a second, lunch time a third
and at 4pm, home time, they would have a big shot.
Each worker had to drink their pay
then and there. They were not allowed to take it home with them.
Unsurprisingly, this led to a great deal of alcoholism, which has
left a legacy of addiction and broken families and general disempowerment
amongst the black communities in Citrusdal and other similar areas.
Now, not only has the 'Dop system' become illegal,
but also farms around Citrusdal are actively supporting the workers
in their quest to improve their lives.
Ronel Van Zyl wife of Obas, owner of the Begandal farm, told me
that her mother-in-law started to change things in the 80s: She
started the first womens course, gave Sunday School to kids
and started a crèche, pre-school and afterschool club. Slowly
other farms in the area followed suit and joined what was then the
Rural Foundation, which received money from the government for community
The CCDO creche
In 1994, the new government stopped the funding
and the farms formed the Citrusdal Community Development Organisation
(CCDO) but struggled to fund many activities. Hanlie Van Zyl continues
the story: The Cellars started business with Fair Trade and
my husband, who owns the Paardekop farm is on the management committee.
"The idea was that the extra money, from the fair trade wine
would come to the cellars and Erasmus said the money must come from
them to the CCDO.
The money paid for a coordinators post,
which is filled by Neels du Plooy, who explains that now there are
18 businesses and 27 farms who are paid up members of the CCDO.
Their mission is to facilitate the dynamic process of community
development for all, to develop the will and obtain the skills to
be able to determine their own future and increase their standard
Neels takes me up to Paardelop and Begandal farms,
which stretch across the top of one of the mountain ridges, to see
for myself the benefits being reaped. Both farms have community
development officers, who are chosen by the workers and then trained
by the CCDO at a local college.
As well as their farm duties, these volunteers offer a range of
services such as running crèches, arranging transport for
activities and sports events.
Hanlie talks about the developments she has seen
over the years: The workers can now take responsibility and
do things for themselves. I think one of the major changes is that
workers are free to come and discuss anything; the workers and the
farmers have learnt to accept each other as persons.
Pruning the vines
Neels explains We teach the workers how
to talk to the farmer, they can be themselves and free to express
themselves in the work and community situations.
One significant development is that once it would
be all white farm managers and all black workers, now according
to Hanlie, the workers are being trained in management and none
of their five farms has a white manager.
This has led to Hanlie and Erasmus offering to sell one of their
five farms to the workers. We will help in the beginning with
the management of the farm, often with similar projects theres
no infrastructure and after two or three years it fails, she
At Begandal I ask Ronel and Obas, if this way
of working makes good business sense. Obas replies, it definitely
makes good business sense. It is slow progress but we can definitely
see the difference.
However his wife is quick to add, But we cant do this
for business sense. What we do we do from our hearts, we dont
do it for all the other extras of selling the wine, we do it for
the people. Everybodys living standard is rising, you cannot
immediately see the difference but if you look back you can see
the huge difference. Obas agrees saying, All people
on the farm now have self worth, they are not a machine.
Both farms contribute grapes to the cellars for
wine production, and in one field these grapes are being rapidly
harvested by an excited group of workers. Andries Faro, explained
that they were having a race, between two teams to add some interest
to the day, before assuring me that he and the others had grown
accustomed to the searing heat.
I am very proud of those two farms, theyre
setting a trend. From a wine production point of view, they provide
30% of our product, says De Witt at the cellars. The
long and short of fair trade is sustainability, if you dont
look after your people, you are not going to have people or a business.
Everybody must earn a living out of the business, he continues.
Citrusdal Cellars have recently provided cheap
housing to six of their
workers, and are developing a scheme through which staff members
who have been there for ten years or more can also buy affordable
The cellars also have community development officers
amongst their staff, including Virginia Waterboer who told me how
she worked with older people in the community. Another CDO, Japie
Bok told how he started a vegetable garden at the cellars
and sold some of the vegetables to the other workers.
De Witt has big plans for the future of the CCDO, he is providing
tasting at farms so all those involved in the wine production process
whether lorry drivers, pickers or bottlers will understand more
about the product they are contributing to.
In a few years I want people to be able
to drink in one of the new entertainment centres on the farms and
be advised by one of the workers on which wine to buy, he
enthuses, sharing his vision for a community benefited by ethical
farming and tourism.
So when you are next deliberating over Chenin
Blanc, Pinotage or Cabernet Sauvignon, cast an eye to Traidcraft
or other fair trade wines. As Hanlie says: the more you drink
in the UK, the better the lives we can create here.
Wine from Citrusdal forms Traidcrafts South
Africa range, available via their website http://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk
STOP PRESS 12/03/04:
Both farms mentioned in the article along with two others in the
CCDO have received the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation's official
accreditation for all of its products.