MC FAIR HOLDINGS LANDS LUCRATIVE EXPORT DEAL
McFair Holdings, a high-tech undercover farming enterprise at Dube TradePort’s AgriZone, has signed a lucrative export deal to stock the shelves of a Saudi Arabian retailer with fresh produce.
The 24-ton shipments, which will be exported monthly from March 2022, will be a mix of vegetables and fruit including avocados and bananas as well as McFair’s commercial-quality yellow and red peppers.
This is part of the company’s operational expansion plan for its pack house. It marks a major breakthrough following the severe disruption of the company’s harvesting of its first crop during the 2020 onset of Covid-19, as well as the unrest in 2021.
The Covid-19 lockdown interrupted the 2020 pepper production cycle and demand contracted.
“Although demand bounced back towards the end of 2020, providing record pepper sales, the June 2021 unrest severely disrupted the supply chain,” said Knox Nxumalo, McFair Holdings Chief Executive.
These two events brought home to Nxumalo the importance of diversifying his client base and business. The pepper business remains viable with the potential to harvest 10 tons of peppers a week across two hectares. New pepper varieties will be introduced to provide year-round production and use the four-hectare climate-controlled glass-covered growing area to its maximum potential.
The concept to increase the pack house throughput through an outsource
programme, shelved in 2020, was reassessed and brought into play. The concept, explains Nxumalo, is to pack other produce, sourced from carefully selected farmers across the country, for their clients.
Dedication to farming, the ability to grow high quality produce and provide a continuous supply, have been the key factors in choosing their suppliers.
According to Nxumalo, their farmer suppliers are being audited and certified to ensure they meet the quality requirements for export.
“Our Saudi client has supplied us with their legal restrictions, and we have integrated these with the harmonised agricultural standard, GLOBAL Good Agricultural Practice (GLOBAL G.A.P) which we adhere to,” he said.
Although McFair Holdings plans to ship the fresh produce, it has worked closely with the Dube Cargo Terminal logistics team in developing an alternative should the need arise to fly the produce.
To support their export initiative and the enormous potential it holds, the company has established its own forwarding and clearing agency and is considering offering it to other customers.
McFair Holdings is the second Black African-owned agri-business to start within the Dube AgriZone, which is Africa’s first integrated perishables supply chain and one of the most technologically advanced, future farming platforms on the continent.
Nxumalo said that, from the start, the Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone had been like a “big brother” to their business.
“The adjacent Dube AgriZone produces our disease-free seedlings in their nursery which reduces our plants’ travel time and the risk of damage. We receive feedback from seedling research and the advice we are provided on crop development is critical to improving our crop quality, while the pack house improves our efficiency.
“Then during the lockdowns and unrest, Dube TradePort came up with their own initiatives and solutions to assist us and relieve the pressure on us,” said Nxumalo.