Local shoppers are used to eating avocados right through the year and of course they are not seasonal all year round. Going the extra mile to cut their carbon footprint is what the new innovative Woolworths avocado plan is all about.
In the past this green supermarket used to import avos for 3 months of the year from Spain. As they’re super serious about their sustainability programme, called their Good Business Journey, this system no longer made sense.
Investigating the imbedded carbon (including transport kilometres) in each product they sell helps Woolworths reduce their carbon footprint. Plus investing in local communities and helping to develop small enterprises is a core principle of the Woolworths ethos. This way they contribute to South Africa’s socio-economic transformation.
Small farmers can stretch the season
Now, thanks to a suggestion from their long-standing avocado supplier, Westfalia, they’ve found a way to do both at the same time. Westfalia, South Africa’s largets avo supplier, suggested that Woolworths approach a group of small farmers situated to the north and northwest of traditional avo-growing areas around Hoedspruit and Tzaneen.
Here, small-scale Venda farmers have favourable climatic conditions to grow and provide avos much sooner than when Woolworths currently receives it. If Westfalia provides the necessary expertise and training to these farmers they can grow their markets and Woolworths wouldn’t be dependent on fruit imports anymore.
Ndivhuwo Nyambeni, who has 10 hectares of avocados and currently supports 12 people, has been identified as a potential supplier. He has an additional 40 hectares of land that is currently being surveyed to plant new orchards.
Local is lekker
In addition, 100 ha belonging to the Lwamondo community is being surveyed to plant a new early maturing cultivar. The eventual aim is that these 140 ha will be able to completely replace the imported avos with locally grown fruit as well as providing much-needed employment for the local community.
Woolworths has extended loans to help Mr Nyambeni purchase necessary equipment, including spraying systems to help prevent ‘blackspot’, a fungal infection that affects the avocados’ skin. Westfalia packs the avos and administers the loans on his behalf. Mr Nyambeni continues to learn and grow his farm, providing fruit to Woolworths, jobs for his neighbours, and building a future for his family.