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AGOA FORUM

South African carrot juice producer Rugani steals the Agoa show

South African carrot juice producer Rugani steals the Agoa show
Illustrative image: Agoa (Photos: Rawpixel)

As the Agoa Forum got under way in Johannesburg, a local veggie juice company got some unexpected free advertising from a senior US official.

A Gauteng vegetable juice company has been hailed as a model of how America’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) can help small South African and other African producers scale up their businesses by busting into the US and wider markets – and also create jobs and boost local suppliers in the value chain. 

British Robinson, coordinator of Prosper Africa, a US presidential/national security initiative to scale trade and investment between the United States and Africa, punted the example of Rugani Juice at the opening of the Agoa Forum in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“Agoa is not just a piece of legislation. Let’s take a step back and talk about what Agoa implementation really means,” she said.

“Just yesterday, I had the privilege of touring our Prosper Africa partner, Rugani Juice factory, a South African company that is fast becoming a household name in the US for carrot juice.

“There, I witnessed firsthand catalytic, two-way trade and investment. Our support gave Rugani Juice the opportunity to prepare for entry into the US market, to attend the fancy food trade show in the US, then to meet a vetted US distributor and sign a supply agreement worth half-a-million dollars.

“I asked Wesley Browne, the General Manager of Rugani, ‘what was the reason for their success’, and his exact response was: ‘Agoa and trade promotion. Trade promotion without Agoa doesn’t work, and Agoa without trade promotion doesn’t work.’

“But it doesn’t stop there. This single Agoa-supported project created an entire trade ecosystem in Gauteng province.”

Rugani’s Carrot & Turmeric Juice. (Photo: ruganijuice.co.za)

Value chain

Holding up the product, Robinson said: “This box of carrot juice represents an entire Agoa value chain, ecosystem and supply chain.

Each juice box represents a supply of locally grown vegetables from neighbouring farms, 250 processing jobs – mostly women – that pay twice the minimum wage… and access initially to regional markets in neighbouring countries that then led to their entry into a lucrative US market.

“As a result, this demonstrated to the world that Rugani Juice could export anywhere. In Rugani’s case, they were able to access markets in Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan… and as it turns out, the buyer in Japan is Costco (the giant US retailer). It’s actually a US export with African supply … let’s let that sink in for a minute.

“Today, with Prosper Africa, Rugani trains other African companies how to utilise Agoa and, through Prosper Africa, is investing in new packaging equipment that will now launch them from paper to glass bottle exports … meeting the US market demand.

“The success story of Rugani is why Agoa exists … it’s one example of how Agoa can and should work. Prosper Africa exists to replicate and scale this two-way trade and investment approach throughout the continent.

“Agoa is essential to two-way trade, two-way growth, two-way prosperity. It is a critical tool to link our markets in ways that advance mutual strategic goals – diversifying global supply chains, increasing Africa’s local capacity and advancing shared objectives.

“Agoa remains a critical job creator both in the US and in Africa.

“In order to support the success of Agoa, we focus on both supply and demand. On the supply side, we grow and capacitate African suppliers that are matched with qualified US buyers – ensuring off-take of duty-free goods – through grants, investment facilitation, aggregation and other trade services.

“On the demand side, we grow the number and market share of US buyers looking to source competitive products in Africa. This is increasingly important as the world faces supply shortages from conflict, pandemics and capacity gaps.

South Africa’s links with Hamas and Iran pose new threat to Agoa as Republican senator weighs in

“This means creating greater awareness of Agoa.

“Currently, we have 819 deals in the Prosper Africa supply pipeline, valued at $1.2-billion, of which the majority are in the agriculture and apparel sectors, as well as the critical minerals sector representing 8% of this pipeline and growing…

“We know that Africa is poised for exponential growth and Agoa is part of that story. And America wants to be a part of that story and that’s why Prosper Africa exists.”

Ramaphosa address

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the official opening of the Agoa Forum on Friday, along with trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel; his counterpart, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who administers Agoa, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will talk via video link.

The forum is also being attended by many trade ministers from the 35 sub-Saharan African countries which currently participate in Agoa. 

The US has sent a large and senior delegation for “constructive dialogue with African partners in government, the private sector, trade unions, and civil society about Agoa’s strategic value and impact”.

“Timely reauthorisation and modernisation of Agoa is a priority of the Biden-Harris administration”, the delegation added, referring to the fact that Agoa expires in 2025 and has to be reauthorised by the US Congress if it is to continue. 

This week, President Joe Biden ejected Niger and Gabon from Agoa because of military coups, and Uganda and Central African Republic because of human rights abuses.

Despite some concerns about SA’s continued participation because of US unhappiness with Pretoria’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine war, Biden kept SA in the programme, though ultimately that decision will have to be ratified by Congress. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • John Buchan says:

    Just when I was enjoying the article you spoil it by mentioning Ramaphosa and Patel are gong to be addressing the forum. Another example of helpless non achievers climbing on the band wagon. First hijacking RWC then AGOA. Begone you egotistical imposters.

    • Stephanie West says:

      Mooi!

    • William Kelly says:

      Took the words out of my mouth. Regrettably ‘imposters’ implies a degree of awareness that persons so helplessly out of touch and incompetent are inappropriately elevated to. I prefer muppet.

      • Adam Davis says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Our “leadership” aligning with the wrong side (of good) in both the East and the Middle East, all the while negating the positive growth which the US and Israel have and continue to do in SA, is not surprising anymore to me because cash (in their pockets) is king after all.

    • Lyrene Zimmerman says:

      True!

    • Roelf Pretorius says:

      Posts such as this don’t contribute to any positive debate. It is time that you and all others like you recognize that, whether you like it or not, the majority that voted for Ramaphosa has as much of a right to exist as you; and that when people vote for a President, Premier, Mayor or political party, that vote is meant to last for five years. Once the five years are completed, it is all of the 25/35 million voters that make the decision all over again. So currently Ramaphosa is STILL the SA State President and is entitled to the respect that the position deserves. Of course next year the voters can decide once again and then the same that applies to Ramaphosa now applies to whomever gets elected. Whether you like it or not, that same Constitution that you are trying to degrade with comments such as the one you made, is ensuring that we in SA can still at least live in relative peace – be careful, there may come a time that this Constitution is no more and then you will find out to your regret what a mistake your attitude is! Besides, calling Ramaphosa a non-achiever is saying something that is untrue – what he is achieving is just not getting the necessary media coverage compared to his detractors in his own party, the opposition and in fact everyone who still wants SA to be as divided as in the apartheid times. Go find out and you will see. Of course he is not achieving as much as we would like – but it is because he is being blocked at every corner and straight.

    • Roelf Pretorius says:

      . . . Another thing: I continue to be flabbergasted at the ignorance of so many people that are well enough educated to know better than that. You so much want the ANC government to fail (and to be fair, they are actually working very hard to adhere to that) that you ONLY respond to the negative news, and you keep clinging to it even after all the lies that it was based on have been thoroughly exposed. You have to realise that a successful country is built by people responding to facts, not propaganda – countries built on its’ people believing in propaganda and ideology and denying the facts are those who become failed states.

    • Lucienne Gabriel says:

      The comments on the DM platform is nothing spectacular, here’s a dark sick narrative of comments, to call our head of state a “helpless non achiever” is disgusting. Just as much as much you do not respect the leadership, surely it reflect the respect for yourself. If all the well educated, smart, privileged, intelligent, “humble”, “compassionate” “collective” driven people seem to know what’s better for South Africa why not do something about it? Instead individuals on here keep spitting the same negative comments, complaining, bemoaning, constant garbage. This article was to highlight the effectiveness of a great South African company in the Agoa and highlight how it has benefitted both trading countries (SA and USA). You just come on here to insult the ANC, politicians, whoever does not suit your narrative. It is exactly that attitude that will not bring forth the change everyone desires, I for one would not want to prosper alongside a “helpless non achiever” like you. I love my country and all its people, but with attitudes of many individuals like yourself I will not tolerate. Whether you like the HOS or not, I will not accept your level of disrespect and neither would I allow you to degrade them either. Keep your negativity to yourself, if you do not have anything wonderful or inspiring to say, keep growing your bubble, this country will prosper with or without you and lots of “helpless non achievers” will benefit from that too.

    • Lucienne Gabriel says:

      The comments on the DM platform is nothing spectacular, here’s a dark sick narrative of comments, to call our head of state a “helpless non achiever” is disgusting. Just as much as much you do not respect the leadership, surely it reflect the respect for yourself. If all the well educated, smart, privileged, intelligent, “humble”, “compassionate” “collective” driven people seem to know what’s better for South Africa why not do something about it? Instead individuals on here keep spitting the same negative comments, complaining, bemoaning, constant garbage. This article was to highlight the effectiveness of a great South African company in the Agoa and highlight how it has benefitted both trading countries (SA and USA). You just come on here to insult the ANC, politicians, whoever does not suit your narrative. It is exactly that attitude that will not bring forth the change everyone desires, I for one would not want to prosper alongside a “helpless non achiever” like you. I love my country and all its people, but with attitudes of many individuals like yourself I will not tolerate. Whether you like the HOS or not, I will not accept your level of disrespect and neither would I allow you to degrade them either. Keep your negativity to yourself, if you do not have anything wonderful or inspiring to say, keep growing your bubble, this country will prosper with or without you and lots of “helpless non achievers” will benefit from that too

      • Antonie Meyer says:

        Are we talking about the same Mr. Rhamaphosa that put the AGOA treaty at risk by backing the Russians? (Or rather, by not-not-backing the Russians.) And the same political party that oversees the systematic dismantling of our country? The same, relatively small (but highly paid) group of people that take what they want left and right, bugger the rest, let them starve? And you expect us to focus on the few things that they did right?
        Perhaps, when the last heap of sand is also stolen and sold off for a pittance, and you can’t find anywhere to shove your head into, perhaps then you’ll realize what was going on around you.
        Critique, when taken to heart and the topic addressed, is a sign of a healthy relationship between the public and public servants. It should never be stifled. The fact that it’s degenerated into lewd statements is a sign of frustration at not being heard, being ignored, at the sheer magnitude of incompetence and thievery that needs to be uprooted before RSA can be rebuilt. If you really cared about the people of the country, you would not be afraid to address the issues, and loudly so.

  • Henry Coppens says:

    It’s really dishonest. The ANC want all the benefits of western capitalism, yet they side with the opponents of the country promoting ‘capitalist’ trade. Moreover, they have their National Democratic Revolution plan which is designed precisely to undo all this ‘capitalist’ stuff.

  • Barry Messenger says:

    So hypocritical..get out of the way you two obstructors!

  • Gordon Tonetti says:

    Well done Vito Rugani

    • Marlize Meyer says:

      Oh dear, I had hoped to see this to be a successful black owned company . Clearly not. My sentiments expressed well by John Buchan.

      • Sheila Vrahimis says:

        why must it be about black vs white? why not about South Africa? The supply chain provided by Rugani provides benefits to black and white inter alia much needed employment. Would you have preferred this forfeited because it is not “a successful black owned company”? South Africa needs all the initiative and entrepreneurs it can muster irrespective of race.

      • F Miller says:

        Marlize, I am in total agreement with you! When AGOA came into being I managed this effort and it was dedicated to focusing on “Black owned” businesses to advance them in SA society because of the historic skills gap, and lack of opportunities for Black owned businesses in Africa along with job creation needs in 2002. Nowadays, it’s a bad word to even consider this as a major factor in entrepreneurship and that’s shameful. This effort to have anything to report upon to substantiate a policy for optics is just plain sad. It negates the true and real nature of economic opportunity in the country, skills development and community empowerment in manufacturing and industrialization despite whose running the country. To say “why not about South Africa” overall, in the most economically divided white dominated manufacturing belt in Africa is sheer denial of the true realities on the ground. Do Better!

  • R IA says:

    Let’s hope Cyril Ramaphosa evokes the same sentiments.

  • Lucy Buhr says:

    Congratulations to Rugani and all the hard working loyal members of the company. Very exciting to see how years of honest , intelligent business has benfitted the community and South Africa. All the best for years ahead…

  • Sheila Vrahimis says:

    The success of Rugani due to AGOA must gall the ANC! The advantages of the supply chain, including jobs, I believe is a thorn in the side of a party intent on destroying South Africa.

  • Johann Olivier says:

    Criminal syndicates LOVE getting into/taking over Unions. Just look at the USA over the decades. It took some serious work – & ongoing monitoring – to clean up the involvement of criminal enterprises. Good, well-run Unions are essential for workers. The latter need to wake up & back incorruptible politicians. (Of course, with violence against those who stand up ever present, it is easier said than done … especially with Hatman controlling fairly useless law enforcement.)

  • What a fresh gust of wind to read such a positive story about Rugani Juice!

  • victorexner4 says:

    Roelf Pretorius has it so right!!
    Congratulations Rugani Juice.
    Wake up whining “old SA”. There are so many positive things happening in SA.

  • Lucienne Gabriel says:

    The comments on the DM platform is nothing spectacular, here’s a dark sick narrative of comments, to call our head of state a “helpless non achiever” is disgusting. Just as much as much you do not respect the leadership, surely it reflect the respect for yourself. If all the well educated, smart, privileged, intelligent, “humble”, “compassionate” “collective” driven people seem to know what’s better for South Africa why not do something about it? Instead individuals on here keep spitting the same negative comments, complaining, bemoaning, constant garbage. This article was to highlight the effectiveness of a great South African company in the Agoa and highlight how it has benefitted both trading countries (SA and USA). You just come on here to insult the ANC, politicians, whoever does not suit your narrative. It is exactly that attitude that will not bring forth the change everyone desires, I for one would not want to prosper alongside a “helpless non achiever” like you. I love my country and all its people, but with attitudes of many individuals like yourself I will not tolerate. Whether you like the HOS or not, I will not accept your level of disrespect and neither would I allow you to degrade them either. Keep your negativity to yourself, if you do not have anything wonderful or inspiring to say, keep growing your bubble, this country will prosper with or without you and lots of “helpless non achievers” will benefit from that too.

    • Donavin Hawker says:

      ‘You won’t accept 0r tolerate’ criticism of the HOS? Pray tell, what will you do? 🤣🤣🤣

      He had nothing to do with Rugani’s success – in fact they are successful despite his best efforts to sabotage them (& all other private enterprises – like Thungela, Exxarro, SASOL et al. Thanks to HIS best efforts at Transnet, Denel, ESKOM, SABC, et al.

      Want to see govt capabilities – look to SOE’s & name just one successful SOE. Or even the State Capture rt he promised t0 fix. Name one initiative the yellow-bellied coward has taken to fix THAT?

      Then we can talk about respect f0r a corrupt, cowardly thief.

      And YOU have respect for THAT? You have serious moral failings if you respect that r0tting corpse, judging f0r questioning as t0 why, how & what next. Lie with prostitutes, get their crabs

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