According to the newly appointed CEO of Fruit South Africa, Fhumulani Ratshitanga, hard work, discipline, focus and respect were the building bricks at the foundation of her success.
“I never let my gender or the colour of my skin undermine my capabilities,” says the 41-year-old who now runs the non-profit company that is the umbrella body representing the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa, the South African Table Grape Industry, Hortgro, the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum and the South African Subtropical Growers’ Association.
She says she let her skills and work ethic speak for her to earn the respect and the hot seat she has just occupied. “I’m one to believe that you can’t say it’s not possible. Fine, it may not seem possible, because you’ve never tried it. Just because you’ve never tried it or you don’t know how it’s done does not mean it’s impossible.”
Ratshitanga says her journey to agriculture was by accident. She had applied for a degree in microbiology at the University of Pretoria, but was accepted for a degree in agriculture instead.
While not disappointed, she was concerned that she would not know which career path to follow after her studies. This was because she did not have much exposure to the agricultural sector back in 1996. As soon as lectures began, however, people in the agri–sector came to address the class and they taught Ratshitanga and her classmates about the career possibilities that were available to them.
Currently completing her B. Com Honours degree in Economics at the University of South Africa, Ratshitanga also holds a master’s degree in agriculture (MInstAgrar) specialising in plant protection from the University of Pretoria.
She got an opportunity at the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU), working as regional coordinator for three years, getting excellent exposure to international trade aspects of agriculture before moving to other roles. Overall, Ratshitanga worked a total of twelve years in the company working on agri development projects that support farmer organisations in Southern Africa.b She joined Fruit SA as industry affairs manager in July 2019.
According to an article on foodformzansi.co.za, Ratshitanga was appointed CEO of Fruit SA on 1 June 2020 following her appointment to the role of acting CEO on 1 April.