Day 10 of the market study tour to South Africa explored farms outside of Cape Town. We started with a free-range swine operation which the owner called a piggery. This model is unique in South Africa because the producer contracts directly with an end food retail operation – Pick n Pay. The retail chain was concerned about food security, traceability of their product, and antibiotics and hormones and entered into a contract with the grower. The farm manages 10,000 pigs at various stages letting 400 per week to market.
Even though the pigs are free range, biosecurity is still an important focus. Any vehicle entering or leaving the farm must pass through a locked gate controlled electronically. As the gate swings open and the vehicle drives through automated sprinklers that raise up and wash the sides and undercarriage of the vehicle. This prevents the spread of disease.
The farm also raises oats for silage, raises black Angus cattle, and makes its own pellets for animal feed. The farm is innovative and recaptures rainwater from the roofs to water the cattle. Manure is collected and every day pumped out and spread on fields. The farm does suffer from predators – baboons and leopards.
Our second stop was to a wheat farm that also ran 3,000 head of sheep. The crop rotation they use is oats, barley, canola, and wheat. They also occasionally mix in peas and lupine. The farm income from sheep is 25% wool, 50% lamb, and 25% mutton. The genetics and productivity of the sheep is very high and they had 22 ewes this past year that birthed four lambs each.
This part of South Africa might be considered the bread basket with its wheat production. But the area is also known for apples and grapes. Apples are exported all over Africa and elsewhere. The grapes supply the numerous wine makers and produce wines that are shipped all over the world. The local varietal is Pinotage. It is a dry red that is somewhere between a Cabernet and a Pinot Noir.
The agriculture around Cape Town is definitely different than anything we’ve seen so far. The topography of the region is beautiful with high mountains, beautiful valleys, temperate coasts, and everything in between.