When it comes to first-class coffee-growing nations, South Africa has yet to reach its peak, however, one KZN South Coast-based coffee collective is finding a way to change this. RedBerry Coffee Collective, driven by Dylan Cumming of Beaver Creek Coffee Estate on the KZN South Coast, is building a strong base to increase coffee farming in rural areas, support coffee farmers, and position the country as one of the best coffee producers in the world.
“The current demand for coffee worldwide is sitting at around 10 million tonnes, and this is anticipated to rise to 12 million tonnes by 2032,” explains Cumming. “We have a climate ideally suited to coffee growing and a global demand to be met so our aim is to grow South African coffee farming and produce a specialty coffee that meets this demand.”
RedBerry Coffee Collective, which now consists of close to 30 members nationwide, is supporting start-up coffee farmers by providing agronomic services as a way to strengthen the existing value chain.
“We are introducing a new model that supports the coffee farming process throughout the value chain,” explains Cumming. “Through vertical integration, we are able to extract value at each of the nodes, so it’s not just about the end product. We process the coffee for local farmers, and assist in sourcing buyers, creating a self-sufficient value chain whereby all parties benefit.”
He explains that this new model aims to drive up the farm gate price – the price at which the produce is bought from the farmer – thereby increasing the value of the product and making coffee farming a lucrative option for investors. However, it’s vital that there is sufficient agricultural output in the form of quality coffee, which is why RedBerry Coffee Collective is encouraging grassroots coffee farming.
One of the collective’s early projects was in partnership with the government entity, the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) which developed the Arcgis app. This allows users to look at specific regions within South Africa, among them Ugu District, and ascertain where coffee can be grown. The app assesses metrics such as the regional climate, slope of the land, as well as zoning, allowing potential investors the opportunity to locate land with coffee farming potential.
Cumming explained that, with government input, the collective is also promoting coffee farming as an economic driver in rural areas where there might be limited land available: “Government launched the One Household, One Hectare programme to encourage growing crops for food security. We’re working on this model to say that growing coffee, which is a high-value crop, on limited land space will provide a reliable income through this new, supportive model.”
In terms of sustainable goals, RedBerry Coffee Collective is working with the Rainforest Alliance, a non-profit organisation fighting deforestation and climate change, and building economic opportunities and better working conditions for rural communities. As part of its agronomic services, RedBerry Coffee Collective hosted a local two-day workshop with the Rainforest Alliance to empower local growers, while encouraging more members to join the alliance.
“South Africa – and the KZN South Coast – have some of the best climatic conditions for producing world-class coffee. It’s just a matter of growing the base and attracting investment,” he concludes.
Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of South Coast Tourism & Investment Enterprise (SCTIE), said coffee farming was a growth sector along the KZN South Coast, and one that SCTIE hoped to see develop in the coming years: “We have a strong agricultural sector and, while coffee farming has been in existence for a number of decades, we anticipate this to really expand with support from organisations like the RedBerry Coffee Collective. We’ve also seen the potential for other forms of investment in this sector through farm tours, farm-based adventure activities, packaging and processing, agricultural technology, and more so it’s certainly an area ripe for investment development!”
To find out more about these and more investment opportunities, get in touch with SCTIE, the KZN South Coast’s One-Stop Shop for investment. Contact SCTIE on 039 682 7944, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.investkznsouthcoast.co.za. To become a Buy Local member or find out more, visit the Buy Local tag at www.investkznsouthcoast.co.za or click here for a membership form.
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