There are two areas within an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth that are major citrus, and in particular orange, farming districts. The Sundays River Valley is to the north of the city while the Gamtoos River Valley is to the west. The Gamtoos Valley is often called the food basket of the eastern Cape as they grow all kinds of crops there. The main products are oranges and potatoes, but they also grow lots of pumpkins, cabbage, cucumbers, watermelons, chicory and tobacco just to name a few. The valley is also home to one of the three big dams supplying water to Port Elizabeth and environs. The valley is very scenic with loads of tourism potential.
The oranges gets picked by hand and put onto trailers pulled by tractors. The oranges then get taken to the co-operative or a private sorting facility to be sorted and packed. The trailers get lifted on the one side and dumps the oranges in a tank water. It is so that the oranges don’t get damaged as well as to clean them.
From there the oranges get coated with a wax coating to seal in the freshness before the sorting process start. In the big Co-op most of these activities gets done through automation, but the smaller private facilities still do it by hand (and thus create a lot of job opportunities), The bad (rotten or damaged) oranges get taken out and that will either go to the pig farmers (rotten) or the juicing factory (damaged or undersized). The oranges then get sorted by size.
The big oranges are of export quality and get packed into boxes, transported to the Port Elizabeth harbour and put into cold storage before loaded onto ships heading to Europe and Asia. The “normal” oranges for the local market get packed into orange bags which get taken to the fresh produce market or sold directly to supermarkets and fruit and veg stores.