Cape Town, South Africa: In his recent State of the Nation speech, newly appointed South Africa President, Cyril Ramaphosa, pointed to agriculture as one of the greatest opportunities to significantly grow the economy and create jobs. Echoing this sentiment is Roger Horak, Co-founder and Global CEO of OZblu blueberries - the World’s leading breeder of low-chill blueberry varieties – who says that the local agriculture industry has great potential to boost economic growth if managed correctly, and supported by both the public and private sectors.
Horak says that in an effort to contribute towards the growth of the industry the OZblu Academy – a school that will ultimately provide both in-classroom and online education facilities, coupled with practical in-field activities on the production of low-chill blueberries – will be launched imminently.
The academy will be officially launched in the third quarter of 2018 with the sole purpose of growing the agricultural sector and creating jobs for South Africans. “We are inspired by the importance that President Ramaphosa’s has placed on the agriculture sector and share his vision and enthusiasm. As part of our commitment to the new beginning and rebuilding of the nation, we will be launching the OZblu Academy bursary fund for Previously Disadvantaged Individuals with an initial sum of one million Rand,” says Horak.
Jon Salters, CEO of the South African business, says that OZblu has well over one thousand hectares of blueberries planted within Southern Africa. “South Africa boasts the first commercial production farms of OZblu with approximately one thousand hectares in various stages of production.”
As we stand today, all the farms growing OZblu in South Africa will, at full production, create in the order of 1 000 permanent jobs and 12 000 seasonal jobs. Salters says that the low chill blueberry season that is almost 10 months, thereby offering significant and longer term employment opportunities to the communities based near the farms.
“We are extremely encouraged by the message delivered at SONA and the new sense of urgency we have seen from government over the past two weeks - they are acting as fast and agile as a technology start-up. We look forward to working with all stakeholders in government to do our part in making South Africa a better place for all,” says Salters.
Horak concludes that he will be presenting the OZblu Academy concept to all OZblu customers so that they have too the opportunity to get involved. Details will be made available on the 1st of July 2018.