Reflections and inspirations from my recent visit to South Africa

It’s always difficult summarising experiences and observations when visiting a country. My first reaction is on the nature of South Africa itself. The sense of a country in transition where old European settler architecture is contrasted with modern development in Cape Town’s waterfront and the striking confirmation of the new represented by the rising football stadium being readied for the World Cup in 2010.

South Africa

Secondly, looking at the sustainability aspects of Asda sourcing, how much is being done. The use of technology in water conservation with composting and concentrated water applications resulting in greater water holding capacity and more concentrated root zones. The resulting water use reductions are impressive and allow more production from a given allocation of water. Mind, the complexity of control and hence the vulnerability to interruption is a balancer. As ever it’s a balance. And for those who are concerned by the energy requirement for water pumping, these frequent low volume irrigation approaches need lower power pumps than low frequency, high volume approaches.

The society is changing too. The changes in legislation have made all I spoke to have programmes on social equity and, interestingly, environmental. The water that flows through irrigation is regulated under a ‘national ownership’. Private dam construction is now prohibited and forest owners are being charged for the water their trees are removing rather than permitting to flow downstream.

So, South Africa was a revelation. The beauty of the countryside and its geography (I hadn’t realised how hilly it is). The vibrancy of the people and the food and wine culture was very impressive. And, as I hope you have been able to gather from these posts, the way the fruit and wine sector are appreciative of the climate change challenges they face and are addressing was striking. As other areas of the globe face altering rainfall and water catchment South Africa has much to offer in technology and learning.

Posted by Chris on 21 December 2009
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