Business confidence, according to the respected Financial Times of London, is an economic indicator that measures the amount of optimism that business managers feel about the prospects of their company.
And SAFE is more than demonstrating their confidence in the future of farming in South Africa, in spite of the challenge of radically changing weather bringing higher temperatures and less water for irrigation – especially in the Western Cape.
Nowhere is their confidence better demonstrated than at their Wellington farm Zwartfontein where an additional 120 hectares of citrus have been planted from saplings bought from the Augsburg nursery in Clanwilliam.
“We wanted to achieve a better balance between grapes and citrus on the farm,” said SAFE General Manager of Operations, Dries van Rooyen, “so we planted the extra hectares of citrus”.
The new plantings comprise of a mixture of variety trees producing fruit – popular for juicing – to feed into the export health market, but other soft citrus varieties are being planted as well.
Zwartfontein – which boasts the sought-after Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (SIZA) accreditation – already provides SAFE European Markets with a profitable table grape harvest. SIZA covers a wide range of good-health, safety and social development practices.
SAFE’s compliance provides further assurance to our overseas markets that SAFE farms are sustainable.
To keep the 66 600 new trees at Zwartfontein healthy and “happy” SAFE has installed state-of-the-art computer-programmed double drip irrigation.
“We need to get the maximum benefit of the water that we draw from boreholes as well as the Berg River feed into a dam on the farm, and our plans to install 100ha of nets will help to reduce evaporation,” says Dries.
Spore traps are also being installed for the early detection of wind-borne disease long before any trees can be infected.
SAFE plans to harvest lemons at the farm in 2020 and will reap the full rewards of the additional citrus plantings by 2022.
Dual crops are not common on SAFE farms but success at Zwartfontein will lead to more farms growing dual crops.
In the meantime, thanks to all the careful future planning that has been undertaken by management, the future is looking prosperous for all SAFE’s 11 farms across South Africa – giving substance to the fruit exporter’s high index of confidence in the prosperous future of their business.