LA VISAGIE & SEUN - A SHORT HISTORY
In the fertile Lowveld region of the Mpumalanga Province, 36 kilometers from the renowned Kruger National Park, the agricultural farming company, LA Visagie & Seun (Pty) Ltd can be found. This company was established in 1969 by Mr LA Visagie and his wife, Naomi, with citrus products as the main focus. In 1973 their son, Andeon, along with his wife, Elise, joined the company, and introduced tobacco as an additional crop.
LA Visagie & Seun soon established itself as a pioneer in agricultural development, by being one of the first farms in South Africa to cultivate cucumbers under protection. LA Visagie & Seun is proud to say that it has been delivering top-quality fresh produce to Freshmark and Woolworths for 27 and 37 years respectively.
When his father passed away in 1985, Andeon took over as Managing Director. Since 1988 a large portion of tobacco has gradually been replaced by citrus produce. Farming activities were further expanded in 1996 when a game farm near Hoedspruit was purchased. After Andeon passed away in 1998, control of the company was taken over by his wife, Elise, supported by Jan Smit, who has been with the company since 1988. Since his appointment in 1996 as General Manager, Hennie Olwagen has been responsible for all the daily farming management and control activities.
As for the third generation of the Visagie Family, Luan and Andeon, both obtained their BSc Construction Management and BSc (Hons) Construction Management degrees and Luan furthered his studies through MSc Real Estate, all at the University of Pretoria. Erwin completed his BCom Business Management and BSc Quantity Surveying at the University of Pretoria.
LA Visagie & Seun provides full-time employment to 370 employees and produces the following products:
- Soft Citrus
- English-, Mediterranean- & Gherkin Cucumber varieties under protection
- Tomatoes under protection
- Tricolore Peppers
The main shareholder of this group is Visagie Beherende Trust. A board of trustees is in charge of the strategic management of the entire group.
To be recognised as a producer of top-quality agricultural products within the required Health and Safety Standards, with the responsible utilisation of our natural resources and the improvement of the social standards of our working community as top priorities.
- To maintain and improve the quality of our products in order to satisfy national and international customer requirements.
- To continually explore new, innovative farming techniques and modern technology, which will benefit all farming sectors.
- To raise our levels of productivity as a company in order to supply increasing market demand, but still maintain the highest standards.
- To explore new opportunities and avenues by means of which to deliver outstanding quality products to the customer.
- To nurture, protect and maintain our natural environment, ensuring the responsible use of chemicals.
- To strive to ensure good living conditions for our workers, providing acceptable working conditions, fair treatment and the opportunity for skills development.
OUR COMPANY STANDS FOR:
- Commitment to Innovation.
- By encouraging teamwork, honesty and communication we strive to create an environment of mutual trust, integrity and loyalty.
- Motivating workers to be reliable and disciplined.
Under the proud leadership of Boet Pieterse, appointed in 1982, this section goes from strength to strength each year, achieving record-breaking results with every harvest. The cucumber-manager is Garth Nel assisted by Domingo Mabaso and Matt Schutz. Altogether 83 workers form part of Boet’s successful team.
Currently they maintain 60 832 m2 under protection, of which:
- 59 909 m2 English Cucumbers
- 7 680 m2 Mediterranean cucumbers
- 9 520 m2 Gherkins
Heating and cooling systems regulate the temperature in the tunnels – between 15°C and 28°C in winter, and 18°C and 36°C in summer. The entire fertilisation system is controlled by a Priva Nutriflex system, which supplies each plant with the required fertilizers to ensure optimum growth. The quality of water is of the utmost importance; therefore all water is put through a process of flocculation, chlorination, ozone and filtration. To control disease and insects, a bio-control programme is implemented, whereby highly environmentally compatible chemicals are used.
The objective – “To continually provide high-quality fruit throughout the year”.
Various compliance accreditations are held including Globalgap and HACCP.
Proud suppliers of fresh produce to Freshmark for 27 years and Woolworths for 37 years and more recently also Spar.CITRUS
Expertly managed by award-winning citrus manager, Spook Sauer, and assistant managers Frankie La Grange and Paulos Mucumbe , who are responsible for the successful annual harvest of the finest quality citrus products.
Under guidance of Spook, who has a 29-year service record, LA Visagie & Seun has received numerous accolades including “Karino Citrus Cooperation’s Farmer of the Year” in 1991, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2007. In 2004, 2005 and 2008 LA Visagie & Seun also received the Karino Citrus Cooperation’s Director’s Trophy for the best production per hectare and export percentage. In 2013/2014 LA Visagie & Seun received the highest yield award for a single orchard at Karino Cooperation.
Paulos Mucumbe is another example of LA Visagie’s commitment to skills development and empowerment. He, in turn, is assisted by four supervisors, D Nkosi, R Makukule, C Mnisi and C Mansi.
The citrus sector provides employment for 41 permanent employees, and a further 120 job opportunities during the harvest season.
L.A Visagie & Seun recently joined forces with KMI Airport and ANB groups having planted 276 556 soft citrus trees and 21 875 Macadamia trees.
The total amount of trees are under micro-irrigation and serviced by six different pump stations are made up of:
- 15 800 Navel trees
- 18 389 Valencia trees
- 48 813 Midknight trees
- 3 533 Turkeys trees
- 14 660 Cambria trees
- 30 007 Nadorcott trees
- 7700 Orri trees
- 23 025 Leanri trees
- 24 063 Macadamia trees
LA Visagie & Seun is proud to have obtained Nature’s Choice accreditation (27/NC10/19898/07).TOMATOES
The tomatoes section is expertly managed by Boet Pieterse, Raymond Steytler and Gerald de Beer. This section employs 94 full-time workers.
In 2006 tomatoes were added to the farming activities at LA Visagie & Seun. Currently 58 000 m2 of cocktail tomatoes are cultivated and varieties include Rosa, Cherry, Yellow Cherry, Roma, Rosalini, Bella, Mediterranean Vine and Tygerella.
Tomatoes are grown in state of the art greenhouses including heating and cooling systems that regulate the temperature in the tunnels. The fertilization system is controlled by a Priva Nutriflex system. This ensures year-round production of 17 tons per week.
The quality of the water used in production is of the utmost importance; therefore all water is put through a process of flocculation, chlorination, ozone and filtration.
We are proud to say that we are fully accredited members of Woolworths’s Farming for the Future initiative. One of our main goals is to become fully biological and we are determined to reach our goal in the near future.PACKHOUSE
The packhouse is under the efficient and effective management of Hannalè Kritzinger assisted by Pam Steytler and supervisor, Jerry Gumbe who adhere to the strict hygienic measures put in place.
A well-furnished packhouse enhances the quality of the farming activities at LA Visagie, providing excellent working conditions for 49 employees.
The packhouse is separated into a cucumber and a tomato packaging line. The cucumber packaging line is equipped with shrink-wrapping machines, which enable the workers to individually wrap the fruit.
The highly mechanised shed consists of a:
- Cucumber sorting & packaging area
- Tomato sorting & packaging area
- Loading bays
- Two cold rooms
Part of the packhouse infrastructure, are three cold room-trucks for delivering produce to the clients and the fresh produce-market 365 days of the year.
The packhouse is GLOBALGAP accredited.
LIVING CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYEES
To improve the living conditions of its workers, LA Visagie & Seun provides single living quarters as well as family units with electricity and running water.
Employees are continually educated on matters pertaining to hygienic living conditions as well as personal hygiene. This has also created awareness relating to the importance of maintaining our natural resources, such as water.
LA Visagie & Seun is constantly striving to provide the best possible working and living conditions for its workers.
All the company’s waste is recycled under the supervision of the General Manager, Hennie Olwagen. All plastic, paper and glass considered to be waste are sorted and collected by a recycling company who collects waste on a monthly basis.
Organic matter such as old cucumber plants are put through a hammer mill and mixed with sawdust and soil to form compost, which is used to improve the fertility of the soil.
Sark Private Game Reserve, 1000 hectares of pristine bushveld bordering the Klaserie Game Reserve, near the town of Hoedspruit. Sark has 5 workers who maintain the workings on the farm, led by the managing expertise of Pedro Nhaule.
- Blue Wildebeest