1 RENNIE FARMS P .O. BOX 416 7620 P AARL SOUTH AFRICA TEL. +27 (21) 863-3740/41 FAX +27 (21) 863-2077 RENNIE PLASE POSBUS 416 7620 P AARL SUID AFRIKA TEL. +27 (21) 863-3740/41 FAX +27 (21) 863-2077 (PTY) Ltd. 21 November 2007 Reg No : 2006/033207/07 VAT No: 4440232975 email;- email@example.com Brief History of the Greenhouse Vegetable Industry in SA. Good Morning Ladies and gentlemen, New entrants to the greenhouse industry today can be forgiven for thinking that our industry was always as highly technical and vibrant as it is now. When we started in the late 1960’s , early 70’s there were no companies or Universities involved in the business, and knowledge about greenhouse production was hard to come by. The start of our industry mirrored the upsurge of growing under plastic in Europe. Today , if you have enough start up capital, and you would like to go into the greenhouse/tunnel industry all you have to do is approach reputable companies such as Vegtec or Richele for a quote for climate controlled greenhouses. If you want to heat you approach Exotherm for a complete heating system, if you want climate control you approach Munters, if you want to plant a specific type of tomato, cucumber, pepper or melon or any other crop you approach one of many reputable seed companies for excellent greenhouse seed varieties and they will even supply you with the technology and knowledge on how to grow the product. Luckily the only thing that nobody can tell you is how to sell your product at a profit as there is a lot of competition out there from other producers and you have to try and find a niche market for your produce . I say luckily otherwise we would be flooded with amateurs who would cause the industry great harm. An interesting thing that many newcomers do not know is that our greenhouse industry has not always been as popular as it is now. When the industry was started there was much enthusiasm from the general public when they retired to put up a few tunnels and “make their fortune” out of “Green Gold” as cucumbers were known because of their high midwinter prices. 2 Then diseases such Bacterial canker of tomatoes, Downey and Powdery mildew of cucumbers, higher costs, the downturn in the economy, having to work at weekends etc started to take its toll on the industry and there were many second hand tunnels for sale. With the advent of 1994 we as a country have been exposed once again to the technology available from overseas and our industry has gone from strength to strength. Varieties have become more resistant to diseases and technology has improved so continuity of quality produce from our industry has improved making our marketing strength greater. I have been asked to try and give a light hearted picture of the development of our industry from 1968. If I neglect to mention any growing pioneer or pioneering company please excuse me as it will be entirely unintentional, my memory being what it is these days. The agricultural industry in SA was slow to catch on to the benefits of growing vegetable crops in greenhouses or “tunnels”. Initially it was left to businessmen for example Engineers, Car salesmen, airline Pilots, clothing manufacturers, builders and people from many other professions to see the advantages of growing vegetables under plastic. Gundles Plastic , with Clifford Gundle at the helm was one of the first companies to recognize the need to invest in the future of the industry. He started to make plastic for tunnels in South Africa producing the well known Uvidek 602 as far back as 1968 at a width of between 6,5 meters for tunnels and up to 11,5 meters for greenhouses allowing South Africans to progress from tunnels to greenhouses. At that time we had a number of tunnel and greenhouse manufacturing companies, Mars Tunnels, Filclair in 1972, Gemcon with Gerald Marais at the helm, Greenzone, to name a few. We have had many interesting pioneers in our industry, some sadly passed on or sold out, but many others like myself still active but welcoming the new generation to our industry. I will mention the names of but some of the pioneers below, please forgive me if I have left anyone out. Starting with the Cape;- 3 In 1968 an Engineer from Cape Town Bill Mylrae built a Dutch Venlow style greenhouse operation called Ouplaas on the Cape flats. He grew so called English Cucumbers, Tomatoes and green peppers. In 1972 Don Bilton and his son Mark started growing tomatoes in the Stellenbosch, area on their farms Bonterivier in Filclair tunnels. They were helped by a then young, English Grower called Tim Penfold who moved on to run “Ouplaas’, Bill Mylrae later sold Ouplaas to Tim until Tim’s untimely death when Ouplaas was wound up. I started my first Filclair tunnels in 1973 in Porterville after seeing the tunnels at Don Biltons farm., I am fortunate that my two sons Ross and Jake have joined me to relieve some of the more onerous duties of modern farming and I am able to concentrate on what I enjoy doing most, growing. I was closely followed by Peter and Paddy Bakker in Lyndoch in 1978. Peter is also in semi retirement from farming and his Daughter Kirsten is carrying on the good work of running the business. In 1984 Vredendal started up as a big cucumber growing area. Freddie van Wyk was the first to start, He has now retired and his three sons Andrew, Bernie, and James took over from 1985 and now all grow Cucumbers. Aletta and Nico Laubser started their cucumber operation in 1988 and were the first to plant cucumbers in bags in Vredendal.. Vredendal has many greenhouse and tunnel growers. Starting from the mid 1970,s we, especially in the Cape, were all very ably assisted by Professor Eddie Laubscher and Dr Peter Maree of the Department of Agronomy at the University of Stellenbosch based at Welgevallen research station. I think many of us owe our early progress to the excellent work done initially by these two gentlemen assisted by Bas van Gooswilligen. In Gauteng:One of the first growers in this area was Hannes Heyns who started about 1975 in Bapsfontein and he and his son in law still run the operation. Dave and Rose Baird started a cucumber business with a few tunnels in their back yard in Kempton Park in 1976 as a hobby and to give Rose something to do whilst raining her children, with David working as an aircraft technician with SA Airways until 1984 where after he joined Rose full time with the greenhouse farming. Now David and his son Derek run one of the biggest greenhouse operations in South Africa in Bapsfontein. 4 Bob Kneen, another interesting grower, also a former engineer, started growing cucumbers in climate controlled greenhouses in the early eighties. Moving to Port Elizabeth:- Tony and Christine Oshrey started in 1975, Tony at the time worked for Plate Glass and his wife Christine, wanting something to do whilst looking after her children, started growing tomatoes in PE, moved on to Cucumbers and now grow and process salads. Just North East of Port Elizabeth we have East London which was traditionally a outdoor tomato growing area until Mark Lutge, Derril Hempel, Wesley Horman and others started growing tomatoes in greenhouses in 1996. Since then there has been a veritable explosion of greenhouses in this area. Moving up the Coast to Natal;Tunnel growing in Natal goes back to 1968 when Tim Lewin and Henry Ford started, closely followed by such Characters as Thug Haines, Roger Evans, Dallas Grobler, Rolf Hagen, Jenny and Mark von Sengen etc Another famous Natal grower, retired fighter pilot, clothing manufacturer, sailor, polo player, golfer and generally master of many trades Tony Hertzberger started his Cucumber business in 1980 in Petermaritzberg which he still successfully operates today. Ronnie Bloch ,an ex car salesman, started a very successful cucumber business in 1992 on the North Coast of Natal, also successfully still operating today. One can not conclude Natal without mentioning the sterling work done by Dr Irwin Smith from Natal University, especially on the preparation of growing Media using bark. Going inland to Mupumalanga;We have Andeon Visagie, builder and citrus farmer and his wife Elize who started with Cucumbers in 1982 in White River. The Visagie family with Elize and his son Andeon are continuing where Andeon Senior left off and going from strength to strength. Mupumalanga has a number of tunnel growers that started in the early eighties, One grower from White River was Mike Mac Namara who had the distinction of being one of my prefects at school. As far as the original tunnel and plastic companies go Gundles was undoubtedly the original leader in the field of plastics, they have now been joined by Rhino plastics and Vegtec with plastic from Guineagau. Greenhouses are now supplied mainly by 5 Vegtec, Rochele and Greenzone with most of the irrigation. Irrigation specialists Netafim supplying Our association , then under the name “Association of Vegetables under Protection” was born on 17th October 1977 at the second symposium organized by Welgevallen. Professor Eddie Laubscher had the foresight and was the driving force in forming the Association. The aim of the association is the ‘Accumulation and dissemination of knowledge to the Greenhouse industry.” The original committee contains such names as Prof. Eddie Laubscher, Mike Liebenberg, Cuis Straathof, Peter Maree, later Doctor, Chris Rhoode, W Kerr, J Jordaan, A Mostert and Dr Irwin Smith and myself. The association changed its name to IASA in 2004. The association has fulfilled its role by holding annual symposiums around this time and many workshops each year throughout the country . The association has also been instrumental in bringing many overseas speakers here to share their knowledge with us. Some of our early symposiums were pretty basic in today’s terms but there were many numerous incidents that occurred. I thought I would conclude by mentioning a few of them. We held a workshop in Kylami where one of the speakers was mentioning the fact that one should count and record the number of cucumbers coming out of each tunnel, then one could compare variety etc. A member of the audience then asked how you count the cucumbers and the speaker replied” One, Two, Three, four------“ At another workshop in Hazyveiw a young aspirant tunnel grower asked if the spray program he was using was appropriate, whereby he read out a list of sprays, both fungicides and pesticides which he was alternating daily on his crops. Needless to say the conveners and most of the other members of the audience recoiled in horror and the poor fellow was soon put right about the safe use of crop protection products. One of our more famous workshops was held at the “Wildcoast Sun” where most of the growers spent the workshop hopping out the back door and doing a spot of gambling, a thing greenhouse growers do anyway. The final incident I would like to mention involved our oldest and most revered member, who was having a little after lunch nap when a speaker was talking about the use of “Foggers”. He suddenly woke up and turned to Rolf Hagen and in a stage whisper asked him what he thought of these “Fokkers”. 6 Thank you.