12
Fruit

The important place occupied by fruit growing in the economy of South Africa may be gauged from its contribution to the export trade. In the pre-war period 1935-9 the value of fruit and wine exported averaged £3 million annually, second only to wool among the agricultural products. During the war little fruit was exported but after 1945 the export trade in dessert fruits and wine was quickly regained and with an increasing export of canned fruits and jams the total value of all fruit and fruit products exported has exceeded £15 million in recent years. The average annual gross value of the fruit crop is more than £25 million.


The Growth of the Fruit Industry

Fruit growing began soon after the first European settlement on Table Bay, one of whose main purposes, it will be recalled, was to supply fresh fruits, particularly citrus varieties, to ships passing between Europe and the East Indies. To fulfil this purpose a great variety of temperate and sub-tropical fruits were imported from Europe and the East and planted in the 'garden' of the Dutch East India Company.1

At first most attention was devoted to citrus fruit production, but with the occupation of the valleys of the south-western Cape by 'Free Burghers' interest centred increasingly on viticulture and wine making, for under the Mediterranean climate, the vine flourished where other crops failed, and wine was better able to bear the delays and difficulties of transport than most other commodities. Viticulture and wine making were actively encouraged by the Governors Simon and Willem Adriaan van der Stel2 who imported winestocks from Europe and established model farms, Groot Constantia at Wynberg and Vergelegen at Somerset West respectively. Both activities received a considerable impetus from the settlement of Huguenot refugees from the Languedoc among the Dutch Burghers in the Great Berg valley. But they laboured under a number of difficulties. What little knowledge the early Dutch settlers had of viticulture had been gleaned from the wine producing areas adjacent to their homeland, i.e. the Rhineland and northern France, where relatively low temperatures necessitate a close

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