Rethinking conventional agriculture : the politics and practices of 'environmentally-friendly' production in the South African wine industry

Vink, Emma Maria (2011-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: When the South African wine industry re-entered the global wine markets in the early 1990’s, it faced a number of profound challenges. The most significant of these has been to gain a foothold in the international markets where both New and Old World wine producers fiercely compete for the consumer’s purse. In the effort to bolster its competitiveness and in response to a growing global trend towards ‘environmentally-friendly’ food production the industry launched the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) scheme in 1998.This voluntary regulatory system provides guidelines for best agricultural practices and a producer must pass either the audit or the annual self-evaluation questionnaire in order to comply. A new Integrity & Sustainability seal has been introduced which advertises this compliance on each bottle of wine. This home-grown regulatory scheme is the first and only of its kind in the world and is now accepted by markets globally. The Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) is a collaboration between the wine industry and conservationists which aims to protect endangered species of the Cape Floral Kingdom, promote sustainable practices and rehabilitate indigenous flora and fauna on wine farms. Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is a marketing organisation which promotes the interests of South African wines in international markets. WOSA’s marketing slogan, ‘Variety is in Our Nature’ seeks to create a ‘common language’ which promotes the environmental aspects of South African wine production and a platform from which producers can establish their own marketing strategies. On the surface it would appear that the industry stands united behind this innovative initiative. But is this really the case? This thesis explores the views and attitudes of key industry informants as well as the responses of 14 different cellars from across the Western Cape. Each respondent was questioned on his/her notion of ‘environmentallyfriendly’, the cellar’s environmental practices, as well as their views IPW, BWI and WOSA’s efforts of promoting the South African wine industry’s new environmental identity. This study has found that the ‘greening’ of the South African wine industry enjoys broad support and compliance at both industry and cellar level. However, the results also show that there is serious criticism against the three-pronged ‘project’ which, if not addressed, could damage the integrity and credibility of industry’s new ‘image’ and undo its innovative edge. At the theoretical level, the study challenges aspects of both Global Value Chain Theory and Conventionalisation Theory. Regarding the former, the ‘home-grown’ way in which the industry has created its own ‘environmentally-friendly’ regulating scheme challenges the role lead firms take in international value chains. Regarding the latter, because IPW works within conventional agricultural practices and is far more cost effective than international ‘environmentally-friendly’ regulations, both large and small farmers can implement IPW regulations with the same effectiveness.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Toe die Suid-Afrikaanse wynbedryf in die vroeë 1990s her-toegetree het tot die globale wynmark, het dit ‘n aantal ernstige uitdagings in die gesig gestaar. Die belangrikste hiervan was om’n vastrapplek te bekom in die internasionale markte, waar Nuwe, sowel as Ou Wêreld wynprodusente fel met mekaar kompeteer vir die verbruiker se beursie. In ‘n poging om die bedryf se mededingendheid te verbeter en in respons tot ‘n groeiende tendens na ‘omgewingsvriendelike’ voedselproduksie, het die bedryf in 1998 die sogenoemde Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) skema van stapel gestuur. Hierdie vrywillige regulasie-sisteem verskaf riglyne vir optimale landboukundige praktyke en die produsent moet òf die oudit slaag, òf aan die vereistes van ‘n jaarlikse self-evaluering voldoen. ’n Nuwe Integrity & Sustainability seël is in gebruik geneem wat die nakoming van die IPW reëls op elke bottel wyn adverteer. Hierdie tuis-ontwikkelde reguleringskema is die eerste en enigste van sy soort in die wêreld. Die Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) is ’n samewerkingsooreenkoms tussen die wynbedryf en omgewingsbewaarders wat ten doel het om die bedreigde spesies van die Kaapse Blommeryk te beskerm, volhoubare praktyke te bevorder en inheemse flora en fauna op wynplase te rehabiliteer. Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is ’n bemarkingsorganisasie wat die belange van Suid-Afrikaanse wyne op die internasionale markte bevorder. WOSA se bemarkingsleuse, ‘Variety is in our Nature’, het ten doel om ’n ‘gemeenskaplike taal’ te skep wat die omgewingsaspekte van die Suid-Afrikaanse wynproduksie bevorder en ‘n platvorm daarstel waarop produsente hulle eie bemarkingstrategieë kan lanseer. Op die oog af wil dit voorkom asof die bedryf verenig staan agter hierdie vernuwende inisiatief. Maar is dit werklik so? Hierdie tesis ondersoek die perspektiewe en houdings van sleutel mense in die bedryf, asook die response van 14 verskillende kelders van dwarsoor die Wes-Kaap. Elke respondent is gepols oor sy/haar opvatting oor wat ‘omgewingsvriendelik’ behels, die kelder se omgewingsvriendelike praktyke, hulle siening van IPW en BWI, sowel as WOSA se poging om die Suid-Afrikaanse wynbedryf se nuwe omgewingsidentiteit te bevorder. Die studie het bevind dat die ‘vergroening’ van die Suid-Afrikaanse wynbedryf breë steun geniet en die geïnstitusionaliseerde regulasies grootliks nagekom word. Die resultate wys egter ook dat daar ernstige kritiek is teen die bedryf se driedubbele ‘projek’ – soveel so dat as hierdie kritiek nie aangespreek word nie, dit die integriteit en geloofbarigheid van die bedryf se nuwe ‘beeld’ kan beskadig, en daarmee saam sy innoverende voorsprong ongedaan kan maak. Op ‘n teoretiese vlak bevraagteken die studie aspekte van beide Globale Waardeketting Teorie en Konvensionaliseringsteorie. Wat eg. betref bevraagteken die ‘tuisgemaakte’ manier waarop die bedryf sy eie ‘omgewingsvriendelike’ reguleringssisteem geskep het, die rol wat ‘leiersfirmas’ in internasionale waardekettings speel. M.b.t laasgenoemde: omdat IPW funksioneer binne die raamwerk van konvensionele landboupraktyke en baie meer koste-effektief is as internasionale ‘omgewingsvriendelike’ regulasies, kan klein sowel as groot produsente IPW regulasies met ewe veel effektiwiteit implementeer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/17877
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