Global and local trends in the wine grape sector in the Cape Winelands District

Over 40 participants came together today in the Coucil Chamber in the Worcester offices of the Cape Winelands District Municipality to participate in a facilitated roud table dialogue on the increasingly stressed wine sector. Rick de Satge of Phuhlisani provided guidelines for effective dialogue before the participants introduced themselves. People taking part in the session included:

  • farm workers from local farm worker forums
  • union representatives from FAWU and Sikhula Sonke
  • wine growers and kelders
  • VinPro
  • AgriWesKaap
  • Representatives from both the District and Local Municipalities
  • The Provincial Department of Agriculture
  • The Department of Labour
  • The Department of Social Development
  • The South African Human Rights CommissionPhuhlisani

Phuhlisani Associate Mike Murray provided an overview of key trends impacting on the sector. He outlined the nuts and bolts of wine farm economics, the implications of the current market conditions and the spiralling Eurozone debt crisis for the sector asa a whole and for employers and farm workers.

The dialogue that followed facilitated by Boyce Williams was refeshingly frank and sober. As the dialogue gathered momentum there was a growing mutual recognition that both farmers and workers down on the farm had become increasingly marginalised within powerful global market chains and their livelihoods undermined by recessionary Northern economies. Participants highlighted how the deregulation of South African agriculture had made it extremely vulnerable in competition with other counttries where powerful agricultural lobbies secured subsidies and protection for local farmers. The decline of the wine grape sector has major implications for workers, both permanent and seasonal. As jobs are lost and tenure rendered insecure, particularly when estates are sold it is municipalities which feel the pressure while their revenue base declines.

 A full report and an accompanying research paper will become available shortly. Phuhlisani will make recommendations to the Cape Winelands District on measures to engage different  actors in alliances for finding solutions.



Posted: 11/3/2011 (1:01:12 PM)

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