Dutch Ingenuity In South Africa

Dutch Ingenuity In South Africa

After visiting two greenhouses that produce finished plants from cuttings earlier in the week, we visited Fides’ 15-acre cuttings farm in South Africa called Safropa–blending South Africa with Europe. The facility was originally built to supply chrysanthemums but that production has moved to Uganda. Today, the facility is completely focused on kalanchoe cuttings. Frank Enthoven moved to South Africa from California to manage the operations.

Safropa produces 1.8 million cuttings per week. While 65 percent of the production is the double-flowered Calandiva varieties, the remaining 35 percent are single-flowered kalanchoe. In just four years, the double-flowered varieties have dominated the European market.

Adjacent to the property is a strawberry farm, also owned by a Dutch entrepreneur. Dutch ingenuity has come into play at Safropa, building canals to catch rainwater and securing a stable year-round supply of water, which isn’t found on most farms on South Africa. The primary heating source is coal and Safropa uses between 15 and 20 tons of coal per night. While coal is abundant and cheap compared to other fuels, the price has doubled from 400 rands per ton a year ago to 800 rands per ton. For electricity, the facility has two generators to compensate for blackouts.

Safropa employs 350 workers. While 20 take cuttings at any given time, the rest are involved in crop maintenance and shipping. While some come to the greenhouses by foot, others come by bus and Fides pays for the ticket. Workers get paid by the unit. While you wouldn’t think there would be a lot of worker protections in a Third World country, because of the legacy of Apartheid, there are a lot of social reforms and laws employers must follow under the Employment Equity Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

One thing we noticed across the kalanchoe varieties was differences in leaf shapes and size. Large leaves are taken off to enhance cuttings production. Supplemental lighting is used to keep plants in a vegetative state. Safropa has been testing energy saving bulbs from Philips. Lights are on 10 minutes and off 20 minutes.

The rooting medium consists of coco fiber, bark and Styrofoam. It is steam sterilized and reused for three crops. “We had to learn a lot with coco, making sure it wasn’t too wet or drying out” Enthoven says. “We were almost not sleeping at night testing the cocos.”

Stock plants are changed out every 40 weeks, which keeps production fresh. “When I came here, the place was full of kalanchoe trees!” Enthoven says. “This system works. The main thing is the plant needs to be ready for the next order in three weeks.”

This was a great opportunity for the kalanchoe growers to ask Enthoven questions about their own production concerns. He says he fields between 30 and 40 emails a day on these matters.

When we went into the shipping coolers, the growers had fun finding the boxes of cuttings addressed to their operations in Canada. A few even put surprise notes in the boxes for their employees to find. Cuttings were shipped to arrive on Monday for sticking Tuesday. They are packed in Styrofoam-lined boxes for temperature control. Transportation takes longer to the United States and Canada. If temperatures are consistently high or low, that’s okay, but when temperatures fluctuate, the plants sweat.

Another logistical difference between North America in Europe is what happens when substitutions need to be made. In North America, where there is usually a broker in between, the substitution needs to be cleared through the broker before it can happen. In some cases, brokers will allow growers and Fides to resolve these issues directly. For blooming potted plant specialists with 52-week programs, timing is critical to receive the same colors on the same date. They need all the colors in the box of cuttings.

Leave a Reply

12 comments on “Dutch Ingenuity In South Africa

  1. Is there a similar site closer to Botswana, say around JHB, Pretoria? I am seriously looking into taking advantage of preferential agricultural schemes and setting up a greenhouse operation that grows horticultural produce. –perhaps included would be irrigation scheme from a solar powered pumping system and a using a waste fed biomass device. ..please advise!!

  2. Dear Sales

    May you please help me with a quote for a green house, size 1 and a half hectors. Price should include supply, instalation and delivery to Botswana

    Your prompt response to this matter will be highly appretiated.

    Kind Regards

    Kopano Molapisi
    Tel: 011 021 5258
    Fax: 011 936 8571
    Cell: 073 330 6422
    e-mail: molapisik@yahoo.com

  3. I am so impressed with your operations.

    How much would a turn key operation like this cost to put up in Zimbabwe? Do you offer any training?

    Thanks

  4. Kindly give brief cost breakdown for setting up a tunnel and operational requirement. I have 5 Ha and intent to grow garlic in tunnels. Whats your advise? I am based in Greenbushes just outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.
    Kind regards; 076 155 2531 – dumatose@webmail.co.za
    Thank you.

  5. I have just built 3 Greenhouses and would like to exchange more with you and if possible pay me a visit in Kenya-Kisumu so that we can work together.

    You can contact me via email or my cellphone is +254720855997

  6. Is there a similar site closer to Botswana, say around JHB, Pretoria? I am seriously looking into taking advantage of preferential agricultural schemes and setting up a greenhouse operation that grows horticultural produce. –perhaps included would be irrigation scheme from a solar powered pumping system and a using a waste fed biomass device. ..please advise!!

  7. Dear Sales

    May you please help me with a quote for a green house, size 1 and a half hectors. Price should include supply, instalation and delivery to Botswana

    Your prompt response to this matter will be highly appretiated.

    Kind Regards

    Kopano Molapisi
    Tel: 011 021 5258
    Fax: 011 936 8571
    Cell: 073 330 6422
    e-mail: molapisik@yahoo.com

  8. I am so impressed with your operations.

    How much would a turn key operation like this cost to put up in Zimbabwe? Do you offer any training?

    Thanks

  9. Kindly give brief cost breakdown for setting up a tunnel and operational requirement. I have 5 Ha and intent to grow garlic in tunnels. Whats your advise? I am based in Greenbushes just outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.
    Kind regards; 076 155 2531 – dumatose@webmail.co.za
    Thank you.

  10. I have just built 3 Greenhouses and would like to exchange more with you and if possible pay me a visit in Kenya-Kisumu so that we can work together.

    You can contact me via email or my cellphone is +254720855997

More From Finance/Operations...
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The Gaillardia

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Annual Meeting Date

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
Evolvulus Blue My Mind

February 24, 2015

Blue Ribbon Bloomers For Greenhouse Production

Grow what consumers want! Surveys show that blue is one of the top preferred colors of today’s consumers. Here are twelve top recommended blue-flowering Proven Winners annuals and perennials to suit your spring production cycle.

Read More
Latest Stories
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Ann…

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
myers industries Lawn and Garden Logo

February 24, 2015

Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn And Garden Business Sold, N…

The management of Myers Lawn and Garden Group, along with Wingate Partners V, L.P. have recently acquired the Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn and Garden business. The new company is named The HC Companies, and will continue as a North American leading provider of horticulture containers supplying the greenhouse, nursery and retail markets.

Read More
american-hort-logo

February 17, 2015

AmericanHort Announces New Board Members

AmericanHort recently announced the election of new officers and members to the board of directors. Each will assume their positions on the board during Cultivate’15, July 11 to 14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More
All American Selections

February 17, 2015

All-America Selections Elects New Officers, Names New J…

While meeting during the Flower and Vegetable Seed Conference in Tampa, Fla., hosted by the American Seed Trade Association, All-America Selections elected new officers for a two-year term. Read on to learn about the new officers, as well as all of the new judges that were added in 2014.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower.com on your desktop, on your phone, on your tablet

February 11, 2015

GreenhouseGrower.com Relaunches With Responsive Design …

Greenhouse Grower magazine, the nation’s leader in profits, production and education for greenhouse growers, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, GreenhouseGrower.com. The new design is the product of direct user feedback and GreenhouseGrower.com analytics, and includes responsive design for ease of mobile use.

Read More
Andy Higgins

February 3, 2015

MasterTag Names Andy Higgins As Its New President

Former CEO and president of Ecke Ranch, Andy Higgins, joins MasterTag as its new president. He brings more than two decades of industry experience to the position.

Read More
Syngenta Bioline Hires Ronald Valentin For Technical Lead Role

January 28, 2015

Syngenta Bioline Hires Ronald Valentin For Technical Le…

Ronald Valentin has been appointed technical lead for Syngenta Bioline, effective January 2015. He will be responsible for technical support of Bioline biological control agents and will be instrumental in helping growers develop integrated pest management (IPM) solutions.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Give Equal Time To The Number Crunchers

Before investing in a new business opportunity, check in with the financial gurus of your organization to make certain you have the cash flow to back up your efforts.

Read More
Plant Introductions, Inc. partners Mark Griffith, Dr. Michael Dirr and Jeff Beasley and Bailey Nurseries President Terri McEnaney.

January 20, 2015

Bailey Nurseries’ Purchase Of Plant Introductions Inc. …

When Bailey Nurseries purchased its long-time breeding partner, Plant Introductions, Inc. (PII), in early January 2015, it freed the PII team to concentrate on what they do best: develop new plants. Bailey Nurseries will take on the business management side of the partnership, but otherwise the relationship it has enjoyed with PII for years will be largely unchanged.

Read More
Plant Introductions, Inc. partners Mark Griffith, Dr. Michael Dirr and Jeff Beasley and Bailey Nurseries President Terri McEnaney.

January 13, 2015

Bailey Nurseries Acquires Plant Introductions

Bailey Nurseries has acquired Plant Introductions, Inc. (PII), effective January 1, 2015. PII has developed numerous innovative new varieties that have been marketed worldwide, many introduced by Bailey Nurseries.

Read More

January 7, 2015

How Inflation Affects Your Business And Why You Can’t I…

Awareness of the true increase in costs after inflation is a necessary part of good financial management for greenhouse operations.

Read More

December 4, 2014

New Developments In Shipping/Logistics Software

Improved shipping and logistics software from Picas Software and MapMechanics makes it easier for growers to plan loads efficiently and automate day-to-day distribution planning.

Read More
Fritz Dramm

December 2, 2014

Dramm Corporation Welcomes Back Fritz Dramm

Dramm Corp. recently welcomed Fritz Dramm as the new fertilizer production and compliance manager. Dramm previously worked at the company through high school and college, and is back after 20-plus years.

Read More
Sarah Harwood

November 24, 2014

Take Control Of Your Operation’s Succession Planning Pr…

Proper business and estate planning with your intentions clearly expressed can ensure your goals for the future of your business are fulfilled.

Read More

November 24, 2014

Succession Planning For Growers

Succession planning is a sensitive subject, but one that needs to be addressed when deciding on your operation's legacy. Greenhouse Grower caught up with two growers who shared their process and provided tips for a smooth transition.

Read More

November 24, 2014

BrightFarms Pioneers Hydroponic Greenhouses For Urban A…

BrightFarms brings fresh, local produce to underserved areas with hydroponic greenhouses located on neglected urban spaces.

Read More

November 10, 2014

NGB, AFE To Join In #GivingTuesday On December 2

The American Floral Endowment will participate in #GivingTuesday on December 2, a national movement to encourage charitable giving.

Read More

November 8, 2014

Amid Drought, Californians Talk Water

As extreme drought conditions continue, the state looks at how it manages its resources, while growers try to conserve and meet changing consumer needs.

Read More