Good returns with
The market for garlic is fairly fragile, but a father and
son on the Springbokvlakte developed a system to dry
garlic so that they can supply the market throughout
Johan and Belinda Booysen in a garlic field. This garlic is harvested while it is still
green and the leaves upright.
on the market and force prices down. But Mr Piet Booysen and his
son, Johan, from the farm Ceres, near Roedtan in the Naboomspruit
district, have a system whereby they can gradually supply the garlic
market right through the year. Apart from this they also market the
garlic through various other marketing channels, packed in an
assortment of containers.
The success factor, and the pivot on which the garlic production
hinges, is an electric drying unit. This enables them to harvest the
Shrink-wrapped garlic. Each bulb is sealed individually and packaged 15 bulbs to a
garlic early, before the leaves start sagging. From the field it is
ou have to be very cautious when deciding to plant garlic, taken directly to open tunnels, built under a roof, where it is dried
Y because South Africa has a very limited market for garlic.
South Africans use only about 3 000 tons of garlic per year,
and a large consignment at a specific market can cause a total glut
by electric fans. Ordinary wind tunnels are used and dry, cool air is
drawn from outside and forced through the garlic stacked in the
It is a slow, natural process that ensures a constant high quality
product. In fact, because it is a cool process, the quality is even
better than if the garlic had been dried in the sun. There is enough
storage space at Ceres so that they can release their product
Here the garlic is stacked in the wind tunnel. Cool air is forced through the stacked
garlic in the tunnel so that it dries out very slowly. From left are Messrs Johan
Booysen, Bokkie Grundlingh (Agrelek) and Roger Stones, Senior Agrelek Advisor, Bags of garlic ready for marketing, but they supply the fresh produce markets
Pietersburg. gradually with small volumes only in order to extend the season.
gradually on to the market.
Mr Piet Booysen says that he has been growing garlic on the
Springbokvlakte ever since he was a lad. He had two problems: the
market was not very stable, and there were enormous fluctuations in the
price of garlic. He saw the solution to his problem in the extension of
the marketing season. This would mean that he had to store the garlic
for months on end and just place a certain quantity on the market every
week. This idea raised several questions, like, at which stage did they
have to harvest the garlic, and how must the wet garlic be handled?
He contacted the Agrelek advisors in Pietersburg, and that was the
start of his electric drying process.
“Now that the system is working, I cannot imagine farming without
wind tunnels. These days we harvest corn with a moisture content of as
high as 16% and then dry it off in the tunnel. We also dry sunflowers
and onions in this way,” says Mr Booysen.
The increased quality of their product surpasses the cost of the
drying process by far. The energy source is a 50-kVA transformer,
which supplies enough power to drive seven motors of 2 – 3 kW each,
used for the fans and the sieve, as well as for the electricity
consumption of the household.
They plant about 4 hectares of garlic every year. They prefer the
Egyptian pink variety because of its long shelf life. They have designed
a special planter, the Lotex planter, for the efficient planting of the
garlic cloves and onion bulbs. They use the same cultivation practices
for the onions and the garlic. Drip irrigation is used in the garlic fields.
Their annual yield is about 8 to 10 tons per hectare.
Mr Johan Booyens says the shape of the garlic bulbs determines
when it must be harvested, usually when it is still green. It takes about
six week for the garlic to dry, after which the stems and roots are cut
off and the bulbs are packaged according to size. They package the
bulbs in 5 kg bags for the fresh produce market, but a large quantity is
packaged in neat containers for the supermarket and restaurant markets.
The garlic is marketed under the Lotex brand.
Each garlic bulb is shrink wrapped in special plastic before 15 bulbs
are sealed in a container. The Booysen family has sold thousands of
these packets on the South African market, and they now have their
eyes on the export market. In order to protect their brand name, as
well as with the prospect of franchising, they have obtained model
registration from the patents office. The model registration of the garlic
has a direct bearing on the way or means of covering, or the wrapping
used, for the garlic bulb.
Since they have started this value-adding system and are able to
supply the fresh produce markets with fresh garlic throughout the year,
they have had a dramatic increase in the realisation of their income.
Phone your nearest Agrelek office,
or 086 003 7333 for more information
and advice on how electricity can
help you farm for profits