We have been growing our Citrus on Ryton Estates in Nelspruit since 2008. Our largest citrus operation to date, Ryton is a joint venture between the Unlimited Group and Vutsela Investments, a Black Economic Empowerment company owned by black professionals in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. For us, Ryton embodies the truly progressive approach to citrus farming in South Africa that we are working towards.
Ryton Estates is a large farming operation with over 300 hectares of citrus and 19 hectares of avocados planted to date. In addition to conventional citrus varieties, Ryton Estates have spearheaded much of Fruits’ mandarin development, planting pioneering mandarins extensively across the estate. Californian-bred mandarins include, Golden Nugget, Tango and Yosemite varieties, whilst new late navel varieties planted include South African bred Navels, Cambria and Witkrans.
With a bespoke pack house on site and new plantings nearing commercial volume, our Ryton venture has created 100 permanent and 400 contract jobs from March to September. A training facility is envisaged that would ensure broad-based empowerment through skills transfer development on all levels to farm workers and people interested in agriculture from the surrounding communities.
Our hope is that the successful execution of this project will demonstrate that partnerships between black professionals, local communities and professional commercial agricultural companies can bear fruit. We want to be at the heart of creating more dynamic and successful models for agriculture in South Africa.