Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fruit and Veg Feeds the Container Shipping News This Month

Record Cucumber Exports and another Worthwhile Social Project both Involve the World of the Costermonger
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH AFRICA – MEXICO - A fruitful partnership between major fruit exporter, Dole South Africa, and shipping line Safmarine, has culminated in the opening of a colourful new computer laboratory and classroom facility at the Khensani Primary School in Soshanguve, Gauteng, which incorporates two shipping containers in its design. Although the Alida Riddell Computer Lab is complete, the school is still desperately in need of laptops for the new lab. Computers have already been donated by Dole, Safmarine and IBM, but the Maersk subsidiary are appealing to other organisations who have spare, used laptops or PCs in their offices to kindly donate these to the school. Their goal is to equip the lab with 30 computers or laptops. Speaking at the opening of the new facility on May 30, Khensani’s Headmaster Dr Fannie Sebolela said:

“This new computer lab and classrooms will be more than a facility for teaching our young learners computer skills. Rather, they will be used as an ‘information hub’ for the community of Soshanguve because these facilities have the potential to change the lives and shape the future of our community by enhancing the quality of their education and their access to information.

“Information Technology is all around us. It is changing fast and impacting our society in so many ways and it is essential that children in township schools are given an equal opportunity to acquire IT skills and knowledge and access to information. This facility will be used to inspire our youth and encourage them to achieve more. In short, it will equip our children for the future and give them the opportunities many of their parents could only dream of.”

Safmarine’s Southern Africa Cluster Manager Dirk Hoffmann welcomed the opportunity to extend its partnership with Dole South Africa beyond their day-to-day business relationship. This charitable venture is the latest in many such social investments made by the shipping line (which we have often written about previously) and such partnerships have been central to the Safmarine Containers-in-the-Community project since the very start of the programme 21 years ago whilst the carrier remains committed to supporting community development into the future by continuing to partner with other socially-minded companies who believe in ‘making the difference’. Hoffman continued:

“Sustainability and success of many of our Containers-in-the-Community projects [is] directly attributed to employee involvement and commitment. It’s the hands-on, passionate and active involvement of Safmariners’ over the years which has enabled our Containers-in-the-Community projects to make a real, visible and practical difference to those who need it most.

“It [is] appropriate that the new Computer Lab and classrooms have been dedicated to the memory of the late Alida Riddell, who had spent almost 25 years at Safmarine where she spearheaded numerous IT and related projects. Alida was widely known and respected for her IT knowledge and skills, her integrity, her generosity of spirit and her willingness to assist and mentor others. It is therefore most fitting that this new facility will be used to nurture and stimulate the young and eager minds of learners at Khensani Primary School, a school which has, under the leadership of Dr Sebolela, become a role model and positive example to many schools in South Africa.”

Dr Sebolela has, for the past 14 years, used his passion for partnerships, hard work and his love for the environment to transform the school from ‘dilapidated’ to ‘dynamic’. The school is now widely recognised for providing a high quality education to its 1264 learners, all with the help of Dr Sebolela’s leadership and the partnerships he has formed with businesses and educational and other institutions, including a link and skills exchange programme with two schools in the United Kingdom.

Among those present at the opening of the new computer lab last week were representatives from the school’s governing body, officials from the Gauteng department of Education, representatives from Safmarine, Dole South Africa and Pick n Pay as well as educators from neighbouring schools. Also present was the head of Tithe Barn School in Stockport, UK, one of Khensani’s ‘link schools’.

A further 20 computers are still required and anyone interested in donating additional computers should kindly contact Dr Fannie Sebolela on email or on mobile number +27 82 561 6878 or 012 7974217 to make their donation.

In the world of vegetables comes the news that cucumber exports from the Mexican state of Yucatán reached a historical high last season. Between November 2012 and April 2013, the Terminal de Contenedores de Yucatán (TCY) moved around 1,500, 40 foot refrigerated containers, the equivalent of 30,000 tonnes of the vegetable. Rich in calcium, chlorine, potassium and iron, cucumber is grown in the south of the state of Yucatán. The previous export record for this product dates back to the 2008/2009 season, when 1,271 containers were transported.

The American company in charge of distributing and marketing the product along the U.S. east coast is Southern Valley, active in Yucatán since 2003 and carrying out 100% of its exports from TCY in Puerto Progreso, managed since 2005 by Grup Marítim TCB which says the port has gradually become a key international centre for the export of these farm products, as well as others such as citrus fruits and watermelons, and is an important driver for the local economy.

Located in the Yucatán Peninsula, southeast of the Gulf of Mexico, it connects import and export companies to large commercial markets in Europe and the Americas. The port is equipped with two Panamax gantry cranes, one mobile crane and five reach stackers and TCY has a surface area of 11.5 hectares with a total of 480 metres of berths up to 11.3 metres deep.

Photo: Workers add the finishing touches laying turf outside the Alida Riddell Computer Lab at Khensani Primary School