Organic SA Citrus Fruit Farm Wins Climate Change Award with Dutch Partner. Photo supplied

Dutch company Eosta and Groenheuwel farm in Augrabies, South Africa, were announced as the winners of the Eco-Logic Climate Change Award 2021 at a ceremony today, during the COP26 climate conference.

The Eco-Logic Awards identify individuals, organisations and communities that “positively contribute towards a sustainable world”.

André and Madaléne Spangenberg – who produce organic fruit including oranges, grapefruits, mandarins and lemons at Groenheuwel in the Northern Cape – have been partners with Eosta for 20 years; and entered the European market jointly with Eosta, an importer and distributor of organically grown fresh produce which is based in The Netherlands.

After being announced as a winner today, André said: “We are honoured and thank everyone in Europe who buys our organic citrus fruit. Remember that organic agriculture is better for the climate. It is how you can contribute to a more sustainable world.”

Climate impact

The partnership was nominated because its organic cultivation method produces fewer emissions and sequesters more carbon in the soil, which are consequences of using compost instead of artificial fertiliser and protecting the soil biome.

On top of that, in 2020 Groenheuwel installed 2775 solar panels with which the company generates 2393 MWh of electricity. The warehouse can now be operated largely using solar power. In terms of climate impact, this has an extremely positive impact since SA’s electricity grid is 84% coal powered.

Current savings of 2.6 million kg of CO2 per year

Soil & More Impacts in Hamburg calculated that the production of organic citrus fruit by Groenheuwel for Eosta in 2020 saved approximately 280,000 kg CO2 in comparison with conventional cultivation, due purely to the growing method. This will amount to a total saving of 5.6 million kg of CO2over the course of 20 years.

“André really has a social heart.” Photo supplied

“The meter has been running even faster since 2020. Together with the saving in electricity consumption, which accounts for 2.3 million kg of CO2, approximately 2.6 million kg of CO2 emissions are saved annually. This amount equals the carbon sequestration by 43,000 young trees over 10 years, or the yearly emissions of 310 households (calculator). Organic growth also has a positive impact on the soil, water and biodiversity,” Eosta said in a statement today.

Grower with a social heart

Volkert Engelsman, CEO of Eosta, has been visiting André and Madaléne since 2001 and knows them well: “André really has a social heart. During my last visit he took me to a new neighbourhood with beautiful houses, small gardens and car ports. He had built them for his retired employees. Attention is devoted to sport and religion. He takes good care of his employees.” And participation is also effectively arranged – 18 Groenheuwel employees participate in the business through a joint venture called Thusano: ‘standing together’.