The South African Fig Producers' Association (SAFPA) is a well-established organisation that offers its members comprehensive resources, expert advice and access to local and international stakeholders of the fig industry.
South Africa is one of the biggest fig exporters in the world - its biggest clients are situated in Europe and Asia. Although the fresh fig industry is relatively new in the country, the dried and preserved fig industry dates back to the 1940s. A census conducted by the Deciduous Fruit Board in 1946 found that over 618,000 fig trees were planted throughout the country, which made up 4.6% of the total number of South African fruit trees. These figs were dried or preserved in jams as there was no real market for fresh figs.
By 1960, the number of fig trees in South Africa had declined to 73,000 trees or 0,4% of the total, which meant that new fig varieties had to be imported to boost the industry. The Deciduous Fruit Board then nudged the Agricultural Research Council to import better varieties to farmers in production for testing under local conditions in Citrusdal and Robertson in the Western Cape. New fig varieties were imported from California in 1970, and again in 1981. The trail concluded that fresh fig varieties were on the rise, and the need for a mouthpiece organisation became evident during the late 1990s.
In 2001, fresh fig varieties were imported from France, and proved to take a liking to South African soil. South African Fig Producers' Association was founded in 2003 after the demand for fresh figs grew, and local growers were able to diversify their existing crops. This led to a mark up on fig prices in the export market.
Figs are a popular eating-fruit, and can be processed into jams and preserves. It is a superfood and a good source of calcium, and multiple studies have shown it to ease digestion, lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels. Furthermore, dried figs are good for sources of fiber and potassium, as well as vitamins A and K.