Promising year ahead for vegetables

The 2010 FIFA World Cup, the extreme cold snaps and drought in some parts of the country have all had a positive impact on the vegetable industry.

- Advertisement -

This is according to Kobus van Heerden of SAKATA Seeds. “Land claims certainly also played a role in the supply of fresh vegetables,” said Van Heerden, adding that we now have less vegetable farms with only a few guys getting bigger, and the small vegetable farmers disappearing.Demand has gone down over the past months, with buyers sticking to basics such as potatoes, tomatoes, onions, pumpkins, butternuts and cabbage.

The industry is expecting growth in exports to the UK and EU, especially in onions, due to worldwide crop failures as a result of unfavourable weather conditions, and increasing demand for products such as butternuts, grey skin pumpkins and sweet potatoes. “We can expect growth in the export of basic vegetables to Southern African Development Community countries as production here is still declining,” added Van Heerden. But the infrastructure to reach these markets remains a serious problem. Locally, growth can only be expected in basic vegetables. “Demand is regulated by the economic conditions, and with a growing unemployment, it’ll keep on declining,” he said.

“It must always be kept in mind that South Africa’s vegetable industry is regulated, and prices are determined by the supply and demand on the fresh produce markets. This is very healthy for the grower as well as the end-user. “The biggest challenge for the vegetable industry is to protect this mechanism and our fresh produce markets,” said Van Heerden.

- Advertisement -