SAFE’s assistant manager at Skilderkrans citrus farm in Limpopo, former stadsjapieJaco Visser, says farming is the life for him and he intends keeping it that way.
“Before I came to Skilderkrans I was a policeman. I was drafted into the police force for my citizen training and stayed on in the permanent force afterwards. After I met Janey, who is now my wife, I went to work for her father who was the previous owner of Skilderkrans.
When SAFE bought the citrus farm in 2012 I stayed on as assistant manager,” Says Jaco.
Jaco was born in Pretoria and went to primary school there. When he was in high school his family moved to Pietersburg (now Polokwane) where he finished his schooling. While in the SA Police Service he moved all over South Africa but now he has found his niche at Skilderkrans.
“I love farming and plan to do this for the rest of my life. It’s enormously satisfying to see good quality crops come in at the end of the season, and the business and technical aspects of the job are interesting.
For example, earlier today I spent time with the chemical rep, planning ahead for next season’s fruit and leaf spray programme.”
“When I farmed here with my father-in-law we still used the traditional farming methods popular from the 1940s and 50s – there was not even a sprinkler system on the farm. Over the past five years, however, SAFE has introduced sophisticated watering and chemical systems. The technical advances have made everything far easier and more efficient.
“We have probes monitoring water and chemical usage in the orchards which I can manage from my cell phone wherever I am in the world. I can see in an instant what is needed in every section of the orchard and give instructions to the foreman to remedy any problems.” states Jaco
Jaco says Skilderkrans recently planted a few hectares of new lemon trees as well as Valencia Lates, Valencia Midnights, and about 7ha of Star Ruby grapefruit.
He says climate change is very evident when farming, because of the changing conditions, he has recently started spraying for pests almost a month later than when he started in citrus farming.
“We used to start picking lemons in the beginning to middle of February, but now we start towards the end of the month. Most farmers would agree that you are much more likely to notice changes in climate when your livelihood depends on it,” says Jaco who relaxes after a hectic day on the farm by going for a ride on his trail bike.>