Karsten dates Proudly South African

Written by on July 22, 2012 in News

 Every year Ramadan same damaal/commotion happens to confuse us. It really puts a bitter taste in your mouth iftaar time when you breaking your fast. We have collected information regarding this debate from all different angles especially regarding this matter started in 2009. The choice is yours ultimately. Subsequent to calls to boycott Israeli dates only, now there seems to be a new call.

please note the message about a certain radio station from durban interviewing Karstens is also not true.  we tried to get the podcast but were not successful. please verify before you spread stuff. 

18 July 2012

I personally  am tired of people blind forwarding emails, bbms and smses from past years. Please verify stuff before you forward anything. I have received messages that I have received 4 years ago on my page and via email. Earlier this month emails were spreading like wild fire that Karsten Dates are from Israel.  The emails that are being spread are 4  years ago emails from 2009. I remember that debate very clearly.  Karstens is a South African company. They are based in the Northern Cape and dates they produce are not from Israel as those emails have claimed.

Blindly we just forward stuff without even batting an eye lid and verifying it.

I do not have these types of debates and fatwa shopping on my page as I feel it just wastes time and is unproductive. It just causes fitna/trouble. Just felt I needed to document this before it comes back next year again.


Where is Karsten Farms

Karstens Farms

Klein Pella

Piet and Babsie Karsten started farming in 1968 on Kanoneiland, a fresh water island in the Orange River. In 1980 they bought the farm Roepersfontein.

Today Roepersfontein is the head office of the Karsten Group, a conglomerate of nine fruit farms, an export and logistics company, an import and distribution company in the United Kingdom as well as production and packhouse facilities in Egypt.

Within a distance of 300 km’s the Karsten Group owns eight fruit farms along the Oranje River, each comprising an independent production centre with a complete packing line for every 40 ha of table grape vineyards. An apple an pear farm was added in 2000 in the Ceres area with 129ha of orchards

The Karsten farm in Klein Pella is home to 87ha of Date plantations consisting of 13 900 date palms. Of these 12 600 are Medjool palms. At present, 90% of all Majool dates in south Africa are produced at Klein Pella.



 Here are the  shareholding of this farm


Shareholders –

Karsten – http://www.karsten.co.za

IDC – http://www.idc.co.za/

17 July 2012

Voice of the Cape Interview with Karstens regarding the false rumours 2012

‘Karsten dates from SA’


News of dates originating from Israel have spread like wildfire through social networks in recent weeks with claims that the Northern Cape’s Karsten Farms has been importing these dates and selling them under the guise that they are in fact produced in South Africa. However, farm owner Peter Karsten refuted the claims, saying the emails have resurfaced after they were spread four years ago.

“Karsten Farms is a completely South African company which is 90% owned by the Karsten Family. 10% belongs to the Industrial Development Cooperation of South Africa (IDC) which is a parastatal,” he told VOC News. Some of the rumours being spread are that the dates are being imported and sold as a South African product. This is against the law and the company would be misleading its customer base in doing so, he said. He believes the confusion came after they sold dates to a company called Hadiklaim Israeli Date Growers Cooperative, which imports dates globally.

Karsten said the Kalahari Medjoul date farm only counts for 20% of the goods they produce. “The majority of our business is seedless grapes which are distributed throughout the world and this is how we actually got this farm – the dates were already planted and the farm belonged to the IDC. We then bought it from them, and during that time they also became a partner in our business.”

He said the rumour started after the links on the Hadiklaim website referred to the Karsten Kalahari Medjoul dates. “We have sold our dates to them and in the past we did some collaboration with them in a bid to show the world that there are dates in South Africa… now that has come back to bite us,” he said. “We have nothing to hide. If we really wanted to be crooked we would have found a cleverer way of doing so.”


Hadiklaim had previously noted on their website that they also had growers in South Africa and Namibia that were particularly suited to growing high quality dates, including Karsten Farms that grow the Medjoul. These statements have since been removed from the Hadiklaim website. Karsten said he asked them to remove that statement. “The fact of the matter is that our dates are counter–season to all other dates produced in Israel or Jordan or America or elsewhere.”

He said they still sell to Hadiklaim on a yearly basis, but they also sell to other retailers across the globe. “We produce and we sell, we do not import and have never imported any Israeli dates to SA… ever,” he clarified. The date farm does not count for the majority of their business, so they have not really felt the effects of a boycott with Ramadan approaching.

“This situation is not good for our reputation or our name. While the financial side is one thing… we as a South African company try to keep on the straight and narrow, by being honourable in our dealings. We employ about 5,000 South Africans and we are putting our lives and their lives in jeopardy by spreading these rumours and lies.”

He added that the most important thing which comes from this is that the community must make 100 percent sure about the facts in the emails that are being spread. “If they are not sure about the situation, the best thing would be for them to visit us on the farm and witness the process with their own eyes. We have a guest house and it would be nice to have the Muslim community visit us. There have been a few that have been there in the past. It is quite scenic, there are 14,000 date trees along the Orange River. It is a nice outing and people will have the necessary clarity.”



Meanwhile, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) issued a statement urging the community to heed the call to boycott the Israeli dates which is supplied to the South African market. “During this call we highlighted certain names which are associated with dates sourced from Israel such as King Solomons Dates, Jordan Valley and those from the West Bank,” said MJC spokesperson Nabeweya Mallick.

She praised the community for rightfully raising the queries on the origin of dates sold by the South African company Karsten Farms with the Kalahari Brand. “It is believed that dates sold by Karsten Farms were imported from Hadiklaim an Israeli date producing company and then supplied to the South African market.” Mallick said the MJC contacted the owners of the farm to ascertain whether the dates packaged by them originated from Israel or the occupied territories.

“We hereby convey the guarantee given to the MJC by the owners of Karsten Farms that all dates supplied by them is 100% South African grown, harvested and packaged.” She said the ulema body continues to appeal to consumers to do constant research on where products are coming from as they cannot on principal inadvertently support Israeli produce. “We have seen the power of boycotts during the fall of Apartheid and therefore need to continue to support the boycott of all Israeli products.” VOC (Aqeelah Bawa)

source: VOCFM

 27 August 2009

RAMADAN RERUN – 2009 VOCFM article    MJC clears Karsten Farms in date saga

by Jessica A’isha Mouneimne on Thursday, 27 August 2009 at 15:31 ·

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has called for calm as the debate over whether or not to include local date farmer, Karsten Farms in the campaign to boycott Israeli dates this Ramadan reached boiling point. Social networking tool, Facebook, was flooded with comments on Thursday from many concerned Muslims, who felt that the farm’s mere business relationship with Israeli company Hadiklaim, was enough for a boycott.

However, MJC spokesperson Nabeweya Malick disagreed saying if the dates South African Muslims are consuming are not from Israeli sources, ‘there are no grounds to call for a boycott.’

“The market is so broad and trade continues every minute with various companies. For us in South Africa the facts are clear that Karsten’s does not sell Israeli dates from their farms. The relationship between Karsten Farms and Hadikliam is a totally different one and we cannot dictate to them who they can or can not trade with.”

Malick added that trade agreements exist between hundreds of South African companies who export goods to Israel. “If we going to venture into this arena, we would have to be completely consistent with all the companies boycotted; and I just don’t think it would be possible.”

She reported that the ulema body has urged the Managing Director of Karsten Farms, Pieter Karsten to do his best possible to seek alternate means of exporting his dates. “We have told him that on principle it would be a better option he could source another central distribution centre in the Middle East.”

Malick said Karsten assured the MJC that he was personally conscious about the plight of the Palestinian people and has visited the region on occasion for relief work. “So as you can see, this is purely a business relationship.”

She commended the vigilance of the Muslim community in their boycotting efforts and urged them to continue, but stated that Karsten Farms should not be included in this campaign as they were 100% South African, with boycotting efforts posing a threat to over 5000 South African jobs.

“It is incredibly heartfelt and pleasing that the community has been so serious about the issue and we urge them to continue being conscious of where the products originate from. At this point, we have accepted that the dates coming from Karsten Farms, is locally produced and are therefore fit for Muslim consumption. VOC (Aisha Mouneimne)

 August 2009 and July 2012

Benefit vs Harm

Who is going to suffer the most?

  • Karstens himself is not really going to suffer, dates is a very small part of his business.  He obviously doesn’t care much except for profits. He can easily shut the date farm  without feeling a pinch.  The only people that are going to suffer are the 5000 workers that he is employing on his farms.
  • Where is Karsten farms? Karsten farms is in the Northern Cape. Have you driven through the Karoo. How many jobs do you think there are in a place like the Northern Cape.
  • Currently there is 30% unemployment in the Northern Cape. .  Although I am huge supporter of the Free Palestine campaign, I am a proudly South African as well.I just have this nagging feeling,  what happens to the farm workers in these situations that may loose their livelihood.
  • The only people that are really going to suffer is the date customer and the South African date seller who has already bought these dates. It is now Ramadan 1433/2012. Most customers and sellers of dates have bought these dates months ago, long before this boycott. What happens with the dates, do we throw it away?
  •  Dates seem to be very scarce this year. I tried buying dates to resell from numerous South African and importers of dates. Both were quickly out of stock. Currently South African Dates are about R170 for 5kg while overseas imports cost about R100 a kg. If you have dates this year to break you fast, be grateful.
  • The other people in essence you are boycotting  South African seasonal date sellers that may require this business for their annual income.  e.g the chacha who sells from his garage in Lenasia, the spice shops in Fordsburg, the home industires that sell coconut and chocolate filled dates. you are in essence boycotting 80% innocent people for 20% ignorance. Boycotts like these need to be called months before Ramadan while people are preparing for Ramadan. You have bought the dates now what, do we throw it away.

To Boycott not to Boycott that is the question 

I always wonder about boycotting. Is a boycott the prophetic way? Also in this case who are the majority of Karstens customers here in South Africa that you are in actual fact boycotting?


Our heart goes out to the People of Palestine. InshaAllah they will be free.  Free Palestine Campaign during the World Cup.Remember running around the whole Durban looking for flags and had to eventually get the dressmaker at the engen garage on sparks road to make it for us.


26 July 2012 BDS South Africa Boycott call

– Complete email correspondence with Karsten Farms


We have received several messages querying whether the South African company, Karsten Farms (that sell dates, amongst other produce, under brands such as “Kalahari Medjoul Dates”) should be boycotted.

Earlier this week BDS South Africa together with the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (SA) communicated directly with Karsten Farms, undertook investigations and have subsequently found that Karsten Farms have indeed violated the Palestinian BDS call by having a trade agreement with an Israeli cooperative, Hadiklaim (which also operates in Israel’s illegal settlements). Thus, we support and encourage the boycott of Karsten Farms and call on the company to immediately end its Israeli relations.

In 2005 Palestinians issued a call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it abides by international law and basic human rights (www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro). Karsten Farms and Israel’s Hadiklaim have a trade agreement whereby Karsten Farms exports South African Kalahari Medjoul dates to Israel’s Hadiklaim cooperative, the cooperative then packages and markets Karsten Farms’ Medjoul dates before it enters European and other markets (through the Israeli cooperative and under Israeli brands such as Jordan River, King Solomon, Kalahari etc.). Thus, Karsten Farms has a formal agreement with Israel’s Hadiklaim cooperative and is in clear violation of the Palestinian BDS call. Furthermore, beyond just being an Israeli company, the Israeli cooperative, Hadiklaim, also directly profiteers and is complicit in the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands and the oppression of the Palestinian people:

– Hadiklaim (the Israeli company which SA’s Karsten Farms is in partnership with) openly admits to sourcing its dates –against international law– from the illegal Israeli settlements of Almog, Beit Ha’arava (close to the Dead Sea), Mitzpe Shalem, Kalia, Vered Yeriho, Patza’el, Messua, Mehola and Tomer (http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/hadiklaim-in-the-jordan-valley/)

– Hadiklaim’s CEO stated in the Israeli newspaper, YNet News, that the occupied Palestinian Jordan Valley is an “important area” for Hadiklaim. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Jordan Valley is illegal under international law. (www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3694)

– Hadiklaim’s dates are labeled as Israeli produce, without any indication that some of the dates are grown in the Occupied Palestinian territories. This is against international labeling requirements. (www.whoprofits.org/sites/default/files/agricultural_export___flash_report_0.pdf)

– In Europe, South Africa’s Karsten Farms’ Kalahari Medjoul dates have been packaged and sold under Israeli brands and in Israeli packaging. This has caused consumer confusion, and allegations of boycott-busting by Karsten Farms and Hadiklaim. BDS campaigners claim that joint ventures like this (between SA’s Karsten Farms and Israel’s Hadiklaim) are deliberately attempting to confound the international boycott against Israel movement (www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3694)

– Hadiklaim is also complicit in subjecting Palestinian workers to hazardous labor conditions. For example, workers are hoisted into trees with a cherry picker and are often left to work on a platform high above the ground for the entire duration of the day without meals or toilet breaks. The majority of workers are Palestinian or Thai migrants – who are uniformly paid below the minimum wage. One Palestinian worker commented that workers are treated like “monkeys” made to hop from tree to tree. (www.leedspsc.org.uk/?p=1671)

In 2009, Karsten Farms spokesperson, Pieter Karsten, said that he was concerned with ‘the plight of the Palestinians’ and that he would reconsider his relationship with Hadiklaim (www.alaaltalk.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/karsten-farms-cleared-in-date-saga/). However, when the consumer watchdog organization, Corporate Watch, spoke to Karsten’s in 2010, the SA company was still selling dates to Israel’s Hadiklaim and, although Pieter Karsten reiterated that he would consider “revising the [Israeli] relationship”, there was no sign of any movement (www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3725).This week Wednesday (18 July 2012), Pieter Karsten again confirmed, on South African radio, his company’s continued collaboration with Israel’s Hadiklaim. It is evident that Karsten Farms is deliberately ignoring calls to terminate their Israeli relations. If Karsten Farms trades with Israel, we can choose not to support such complicity by boycotting the company.
The 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, comprising of over 2 million members, voted earlier this month (on the 08th of July 2012) to boycott Israel’s Hadiklaim – the same company that Karsten Farms has chosen to trade with. The vote to boycott the company was taken by an overwhelming majority, 457 to 180. (www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000763491&fid=1725)In light of the above, and given our country’s history, it is shameful that a South African company continues to trade with an Israeli cooperative directly complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and in violation of the Palestinian BDS call.

TAKE ACTION NOW:1. Refuse to buy products from Karsten Farms.2. Inform store-owners of your decision and request them to communicate this to Karsten Farms3. Write directly to Karsten Farms informing them of your decision and insisting that their Israeli relations be immediately terminated: pieterk@karsten.co.za or www.karsten.co.za/framework/contact-general.php4. Visit us online for campaign tools and other ways to get involved: www.bdssouthafrica.com/2009/07/dates-karstens-farms-and-hadiklaim.html
We urge all, including Karsten Farms, to heed the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “The issue of a principled commitment to justice lies at the heart of responses to the suffering of the Palestinian people and it is the absence of such a commitment that enables many to turn a blind eye to it.”  
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3 Reader Comments

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  1. najma says:

    On Karsten dates:
    thanks for taking the trouble to research.
    I am one of those blind followers sometimes.
    Allah give me hidayah to wait before I forward these emails.
    thanks for the effort put in.
    Great service to the ummah.

  2. Jibrin says:

    I will want to place an order for this dates despide the condemnation or boycott, I tested the sweetness of this dates this year Ramadan and will hope to enjoy it again and again.

  3. palestinian supporter says:

    even though it is not israhell’s dates, the fact is that this company has business ties/ trade with an israhell company who occupies Palestinian land illegally, kill women and children while keeping them in concentration camps.