Can we save the planet?

This is a big question and some people will question if we have to ask it. But every now and again I stumble upon “spare time” – that delicious, dangerously perfumed flower of modern life. And while incapacitated, I often find myself asking that question. That’s when I realise why I try to avoid spare time.

Right now I am strapped into an aeroplane and I have had spare time thrust upon me. I have just spent a few days in London at the invitation of WOSA (Wines of South Africa) launching our wine industry’s new positioning promise to the UK – eco-friendly winemaking.

Since the Second World War global agriculture has without malicious intent embarked on a self-destructive path of unbalanced chemical fertilisation. It’s a long, tortuous story that continues to leave farmers underpaid and undervalued. This trajectory has lead to unhealthy, unbalanced soil that cannot fully hope to support the plants and crops swaying in the wind above it. These plants are disadvantaged by the imbalance and can not protect themselves. Their disease status in turn demands chemical herbicides and insecticides. The result is a spiral of unnatural imbalance which not only results in pollutants but plants with radically reduced nutrient potential. It is not surprising that WHO (the World Health Organisation) recently released a massive report that couldn’t find a disease (1st World or Developing World) that wasn’t linked to nutrition.

As the South African wine industry we have taken a bold stand in this regard. We have nailed our colours to the mast of sustainable agriculture. We have done this in the form of two self-regulating industry structures – the recent “Biodiversity and Wine Initiative” and the already functioning and world leading “Integrated Production of Wine Scheme”.

Within three years only wine grown in a sustainable, eco-friendly way will be certified for sale by our regulatory body. Legislated at government level, we will be the first country to go to this extent.

The legislation will commit farmers to absolute minimal chemical spraying as well as preserving the natural fauna and especially the natural floral biodiversity on their farms.