News - January 17, 2010

Filming oranges in South Africa

Sietze van der Velde, MSc. student in agrotechnology, and a cameraman travelled to Paarl in South Africa for his internship. They had to bring home film material about the fruit supply chain and emerging farmers.

Having arrived at the airport in Cape Town for hardly twenty minutes, we almost had to return to the Netherlands right away. A few fat women from the customs stood around us intimidatingly and demanded to see our return flight ticket. Since we had only an E-ticket, we could not show that to them. The next quarter of an hour was spent desperately trying to convince the women using a mobile telephone with internet. We finally succeeded and were allowed to stay! Afterwards, we had to drive in the dark in a rented car without a navigation system with camera equipment worth 7000 euros through a notorious ghetto to find the place where we would spend our night.'
'The idea to travel together to South Africa was mooted on a Saturday evening in our favourite pub in my village. I was sitting together with Sander at the bar. The result was our being commissioned by the Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group of Wageningen UR to film the fruit supply chain and to show what takes place before an orange arrives at the supermarket.  We also filmed situations which can bring practical knowledge across to emerging farmers. These are generally poor, dark-skinned farmers who have acquired a piece of land. They very much want to export their produce to other parts of the world, but often do not have enough knowledge and understanding of commerce.
'One evening, I was pub-hopping in Cape Town with Sander. When he went behind a palm tree to urinate, he was accosted by a few passers-by. One of them threatened to stab him if he did not hand over his money. Luckily, Sander had only eight euros with him. I had on two occasions during this trip seen someone lying on the street in a pool of blood while the police stood around.'
'And yet, you do have to go to South Africa. The nature is beautiful. There are breathtaking hills and wine yards. From our little house in the countryside, we could see the sun disappearing behind the Table Mountains. There are so many different cultures. The issue of black and white is becoming less pronounced. The white and the dark children who grow up in these days go more and more to the same schools. Currently, there is a middle class comprising wealthier dark people. There are still many problems, of course, but South Africa is a special country with enormous possibilities.'