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 Friday September 13.
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.
Four people received awards for outstanding performance working on deciduous fruit farms specifically and three for their direct and indirect contribution to
the industry, including Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing chairman, Pieter Graaff.
Mr Graaff is the owner of Witzenberg Properties, a mixed/multi-faceted farm in Ceres. With 1 200ha of fruit orchards, of which 850 ha are apples, Mr Graaff was chosen by the Agricultural Writers Association as national farmer of the year last year.
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 with its own infrastructure.
The combined production makes Mr Graaff the single largest individual apple producer in South Africa.
Still, he believes that you can always improve. Mr Graaff also ensures that Witzenberg continues its long tradition of caring for its people. He provides benefits to his employees over and above the minimum requirements.
Mr Graaff’s other farming activities include, among others, pears, nectarines, peaches, cherries, wine grapes, vegetables, grain, sheep and cattle.
He has also served the industry with terms as a board member/trustee of the then SA Apple and Pear Producers Association (SAAPPA) and the Deciduous Fruit Producers Trust (SPT). He was also chairman of SAAPPA (now Hotrgro 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 chairman of Ceres Fruit Growers and marketer, Tru-Cape.
He also serves on the board of more than 10 companies, and contributes to various parts of the industry’s value chain, in many ways.
Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing managing director, Roelf Pienaar, says Mr Graaff’s latest achievement, the OSH Reinecke industry leader award, marks 2019 as a milestone year. “As our largest grower and company chairman, the whole Tru-Cape team extends our warm congratulations to and pride in Pieter Graaff’s outstanding achievements.”