South Africa has a tremendous opportunity to be the chief counter season supplier of Persimmons to the overseas markets.
The persimmon is a deciduous fruit type originating in China. It is very popular in the far East (Japan, South Korea and China) where both production and consumption levels are very high. It has become popular in the West over the past 25 years with a niche market in the USA and Europe, but serious cultivation of the fruit only started in South Africa in the mid 1990’s.
2.2 Million tons of this fruit are produced and consumed in the Northern Hemisphere every year, but the persimmon does not store for more than three months resulting in their needing an off season supplier to keep up with the demand year round. The Southern Hemisphere therefore becomes the natural supplier of this counter season fruit, but at present there is very little production anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere to supply this market slot. The Mediterranean regions of the Western Cape as well as areas in Kwazulu Natal and the Eastern Transvaal have excellent climates for the production of persimmons and the growers have the necessary fruit knowledge and infrastructure to cultivate and market the product.
Grower groups have been formed to produce fruit from a controlled number of hectares ensuring high quality fruit in limited quantities. Also, by using established brand names and recognized International Trademarks, maximum returns to the producers are guaranteed. There is already a considerable amount of foreign and IDC investment in both orchards and packhouses, and approximately 500 hectares of persimmons will be planted in the Western Cape by September 2003. By 2010 it is expected that 1200 hectares will be planted, directly creating 3600 new jobs and much more work indirectly in the supporting industries. Fifteen percent of the total planted hectarage has been allocated to empowerment projects so ensuring involvement and ownership by the previously disadvantaged.
As Persimmons are picked later than all other deciduous fruit (i.e. in May and June), they help to extend the fruit season and so provide work for a longer period. With a total of 30 000 tons of fruit expected to be exported annually from 2010, the revenue back to the producers is expected to be in excess of R500M. A minimum of four dedicated packhouses will be required to pack the fruit for the export markets.
We trust that the attached will meet with your favourably consideration, allowing South Africa to become the lead Southern Hemisphere role player, supplying a new export fruit type, in this exciting international opportunity.