BEVERAGES: VinPro Investment In Development
Recent Western Cape Business News
VinPro, the representative body for the South African wine producers, has made available funding of at least R2 million a year to accelerate development in the wine industry.
The funds will mainly be applied to training at producer level, ethical trade initiatives (via Wieta and Fairtrade) and research, the latter through the proposed Institute of Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch.
This announcement was made by VinPro executive director, Rico Basson, following the organisation’s latest board meeting. “We hereby envisage an acceleration of momentum and getting a greater impact from the significant initiatives which are already in place,” said Basson.
According to VinPro there is an urgent need for technical training at farm level, for workers, team leaders, managers and producers. “Very little technical training is currently carried out, which has an effect on the skills and productivity of farm workers and team leaders in particular,” Basson added.
VinPro has already started with the production of DVD training material for vineyard workers. This entails creating accredited material comprising ten modules aimed at training vineyard workers in all activities throughout the production season.
This project is being funded jointly by the VinPro Development Fund, AgriSETA, Department of Agriculture, a private donor and private sector sponsorships. The target date for completion of the DVD series is July next year.
VinPro Consultation Service’s own team of viticulturists will, wherever possible, be involved with the training.
VinPro fully supports compliance with ethical trade and will allocate funding whereby the costs related to the audit for ethical trade accreditation can be partly subsidised.
“The costs related to Wieta training and accreditation are substantial and it is important for the industry to see growth in the number of producers and cellars which attain a form of ethical trade accreditation,” said Basson.
The subsidy will be available to all VinPro members who attain full accreditation according to the Wieta or Fairtrade standards and will amount to R2 500 per member. VinPro believes that the successful establishment of the US Institute for Viticulture and Oenology, through focused and practically-directed research, can make a valuable contribution to the sustainability of the industry as a whole. VinPro will finalise the details of its support for this initiative once the Institute has been formally established.
The budgeted amount of R2 million a year, will be annually increased in line with inflation for an indefinite period, while the specific allocations can be adjusted yearly according to identified needs.
Funding from the private sector, as well as government, will be sourced, with a view to match the VinPro contributions rand-for-rand. The VinPro Development Fund will operate as an independent legal entity, probably a non-profit company, with a board including experts from the various focus areas.
The mandate for funding will be annually approved by the VinPro board and applications can be received and evaluated before the onset each new financial year in July. “We believe that this investment will make a substantial contribution to further improving the sustainability of the South African wine producer,” Basson said.
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