When I travel around the country, I enjoy looking at farms – and am invariably surprised and delighted at what I come across. For example, on the Schoemanskloof road to Mbombela, at the entrance to the valley, is the citrus farming operations of Joubert en Seuns.
Over the years, I’ve watched how they have expanded their orchards, applying the latest farming methods. It is exciting to think that one day this already substantial grower business will provide work to hundreds of people and fruit to the world.
Beyond Mbombela, through the spectacular Crocodile River Gorge on the way to Komatipoort, are hectares upon hectares of sugar cane, followed by huge banana plantations.
Drive through the Tzaneen/Mooketsi area and you’re in for another treat. Not only does nature provide spectacular scenery but the farmers lay on a visual feast of avocado and macadamia orchards, banana plantations, tomato lands, and a spread of other crops.
The area is lush and productive, despite the drought.
Alternatively, follow the Vaal and Orange rivers, and see the enormous agricultural production along their banks. Go downstream to the Orange’s lower reaches, such as Blouputs, and you will find huge vineyards.
Then there’s the Eastern Cape, where citrus abounds and dairy cows graze pastures along the Sunshine Coast against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean. And KwaZulu-Natal, with its vast sugar plantations, as well as the Western Cape, where vineyards and cellars produce world-renowned wines and orchards grow export-quality fruit.
No matter where the road takes us, we will see farmers growing produce and livestock of the highest quality despite some of the most challenging farming conditions imaginable. We can be proud of them.
Michael Cordes is an agricultural journalist, consultant, trainer and former farmer.