On 6 April the South African Flower Growers Association, SAFGA, held the first 2022 Growers’ Day. The association usually organizes two grower meetings per year where growers, invite fellow growers and service providers who are members of the association, to visit their farms. The bulk of SAFGA members is in the northern part of South Africa supplying their produce to Multiflora auction which is situated in Johannesburg. Multiflora is the only flower auction in South Africa. Growers also supply their products direct to bouquet makers and wholesalers in throughout South Africa. This is explained by Jac Duif, Secretary of the South African Flower Growers Association.
The SAFGA association’s chairperson, Dr. Pierre Adriaanse from Unisa (University of South Africa) was excited to welcome 80 persons who attended the grower’s day. Amongst the visitors were also two young Dutch horticulture students doing their practical in South Africa.
The first visit was at Selemo Valley Farms, a family business in Tarlton, 40km west of Johannesburg. Selomo Valley Farms has 20 ha of greenhouses and produces mostly chrysanthemum, natural and dyed, for the export market in addition to other flowers and vegetables for the local and export markets.
The next visit was to the nursery of Ball Straathof in Muldersdrift. Ball Straathof is part of the well-known international Ball Group and they are the main local suppliers of flower seeds, plugs, and vegetative materials to wholesale nurseries and flower growers in South Africa. "This modern and well-run nursery is always a very interesting venue to visit and learn more about new and improved varieties for the nursery and flower markets."
After these visits, the group was treated to a lovely lunch at the Usambara Restaurant, not far from Ball Straathof. The meeting was addressed by the Rev. Stefan Zeelie who runs the “Together we Bloom” organization. This is an organization that provides food and teaching materials to primary schools with underprivileged children. They also assist needy elderly people of all races.
Their funds are derived from donations from horticultural businesses such as LVG Potplants and SAFGA is also one of their sponsors. “Together we Bloom” is a registered aid organization and is managed by a board of directors.
The other speaker, Ben van Dijk, of Buzz Electrical, enlightened the audience about the possible use of Solar Power on their farms. "South Africa presently has regular power cuts and this can be disastrous for crops in greenhouses on hot sunny days. However, almost every farm has its own generator but with the very high price of diesel, solar power will be the answer for now and in the future. The South African climate is ideal for solar power generation."
The South African flower industry was hit hard during the start of Covid 19 in 2020, and from March to May the flower auction, Multiflora was closed and growers had to destroy tons of their products, Duif explains. "However, the industry recuperated rapidly and flower prices have been acceptable for the past year two years. Most flowers produced around Johannesburg are for the local South African market, unlike the products grown in the Cape Province and Kwazulu Natal, such as Proteas and fynbos are grown mainly for export."