Johan Du Plessis, who was recently appointed Farm Manager at Oranjestroom near Upington in the Northern Cape brings many years of experience in the production of table grapes to his new role.
“My wife, Cielie, has been at Oranjestroom for several years and I’m looking forward to the challenges of running the farm with her at my side,” says Johan.
“I started at Oranjestroom in September and am still finding my way. Table grape farming is not new to me, but conditions are different here to those in the Western Cape.
According to Johan, the farm has a lot of potential but as with any farming operation there are always going to be challenges to overcome.
“This is not a problem for me – with the backing of SAFE – we can achieve so much with this farm.
“My main goals are to optimise production while minimising costs and to ensure staff welfare – we employ about 140 workers, including seasonal workers. I believe that if staff are content and productive, the farm is bound to be profitable.
“I also intend to make some changes to the staff accommodation and to upgrade the recreational areas, however it’s early days and the most pressing thing at the moment is to bring in the next grape harvest.
At 41ha, Oranjestroom is a relatively small farm and grape varieties planted include Prime, Early Sweet, Jack Salute, Sugra 13 and Melody. “For now, my main job is to make sure that every block is profitable.”