The South African deciduous fruit industry presented its awards for outstanding performance in agriculture at the 44th annual gala evening held in Somerset West at the Lord Charles Hotel on 13 September 2019.
Deciduous fruit includes apples, pears, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and prunes, cherries, table grapes and dried grapes – grown mainly in the Western Cape. The deciduous fruit industry once again showed that hard work, skills development and community involvement are all key to a successful season.
Tru-Cape chairperson honoured
Four people received awards for outstanding performance, and three for their direct and indirect contribution to the industry, including Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing chairperson, Pieter Graaff.
Graaff is the owner of Witzenberg Properties, a mixed/multi-faceted farm in Ceres. With 1 200ha of fruit orchards, of which 850ha are apples, Graaff was chosen by the Agricultural Writers’ Association as National Farmer of the Year in 2018.
Over the past 35 years he honed his skills to become one of the most influential leaders of the deciduous fruit industry. Under his exceptional leadership five farming units were added to the original farm, meaning better productivity, turnover and profit. His six farming units are spread out over four climate zones in the area, and each unit is operated independently and has its own infrastructure. The combined production makes Graaff the single largest individual apple producer in South Africa.
A man of many talents
Still Graaff believes that you can always improve. He is known as an innovative grower – someone with a head for business and a forward-thinking approach. Graaff also ensures that Witzenberg continues its long tradition of caring for its people. A very popular employer in Ceres, he provides benefits to his employees over and above the minimum requirements. His workers can lead a life of dignity until retirement age.
Graaff was also chairperson of SAAPPA (now Hortgro Pome) and played a leading role on behalf of the apple and pear industry with the transition from the one-channel system to a deregulated industry. He is currently the chairperson of Ceres Fruit Growers and Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing. He also serves on the board of more than ten companies, and contributes to various parts of the industry’s value chain, in many ways.
Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing managing director Roelf Pienaar says Graaff’s latest outstanding achievement, the OSH Reinecke Industry Leader award by the South African deciduous fruit industry, which comes hot on the heels of his award as South Africa’s Farmer of the Year, marks 2019 as a milestone year. “As our largest grower and company chairperson, the whole Tru-Cape team extends our warm congratulations to and pride in Pieter Graaff’s outstanding achievements.” – Press release, Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing