It’s been 26 years since Adriaan Badenhorst started working in the fruit industry, and he has no regrets. As a product specialist in citrus and table grapes at the Perishable Product Export Control Board (PPECB), he ensures that South Africa only exports the best fresh produce.
Badenhorst champions lifelong learning and says the best part of his work is gaining new knowledge, and up-skilling others working in the fruit industry. Every day, he also oversees fruit inspectors in pack houses, guaranteeing fully-qualified fruit inspectors by ensuring that they undergo practical and theoretical training to oversee fruit exports.
He encourages learners with a keen eye for detail and a passion for the fruit industry to consider this occupation. Over the next few weeks as part of our new AgriSETA Learner Connect campaign – presented in partnership with Food For Mzansi and 19 radio stations – we explore a number of study and career opportunities in the agriculture.
This diverse industry offers a world of career choices. But don’t take our word for it, listen to AgriSETA Learner Connect. It is free on your favourite podcast channels, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, so you can gain first-hand knowledge on all the options available.
Ok, now it’s over to Adriaan Badenhorst for today’s AgriSETA Learner Connect.
1Could you sum up your job for us? The most important part of my job is to make sure the inspectors in the pack houses, inspecting the fruit being exported, are competent to do their job. This requires me to make sure they are fully trained on all the quality requirements of the product, for example citrus or grapes, and then test them through theoretical tests and practical evaluations.
To do this, I must keep abreast with all the latest information on the products, all the changes in the export market requirements, all the new cultivars and all the feedback from the overseas markets on the quality of the fruit arriving there. My job also involves the continual development and updating of training material and manuals to assist the inspectors during the fulfilment of their inspection function.
2So, what does the day-to-day of your job entail? In the beginning of the fruit export season, I go to all the inspectors in my region and discuss all the quality aspects and changes in the standard of the product, such as table grapes, and make sure they understand all the inspection principles.
Once that is done, all the inspectors will write a uniformity or competency test to determine their theoretical knowledge. If they pass the theoretical test, I will go with that inspector to his pack house and evaluate them to make sure they do the fruit inspection correctly, including things like internal quality tests and identification of all deviations. When I’m in the office I update product manuals, drawing up theoretical tests, writing up reports and keeping databanks of all activities done with the inspectors.
What qualification do you need for this career? To start off with a career at the Perishable Product Export Control Board, you need a tertiary qualification in agriculture. I have a food science and horticulture background, but you can also consider environmental sciences. Whatever qualification you choose, a passion for working in the fruit industry is critical.
4What are the character traits you need to be great at your job? You need to have a keen eye for detail, be passionate about agriculture, be a good communicator, have good people skills and the ability to keep on learning.
5What subjects do I need to become a fruit inspector? The entry qualification for university studies is a national senior certificate with a Bachelor’s pass. At university, you can also acquire Bachelor of Science degree.
6What do you love about agriculture as a space to work in? I love the agricultural environment because it’s very challenging. Every year there are different fruit quality aspects, new cultivars, new pests or something new that export markets requires. This means that you must always be prepared to learn new things.
7Don’t be modest, tell us about your proudest career moments? Becoming a product specialist was a proud career moment. This signifies that you are considered a person who really knows everything about a product such as citrus or grapes. Taking up this position meant that PPECB depends on your knowledge to up-skill others in the sector, especially new inspectors. Obtaining my Master’s degree in science was also a very proud moment.
8What do you do when you’re not at work? I believe a balanced life is critical for success, so I enjoy endurance sport such as ultra-distance running and mountain bike marathons and spending quality time with my family
9Any advice for young people who are inspired by your career story here on AgriSETA Learner Connect? Keep on studying and get the best possible qualifications. Be prepared to raise your hand for every possible opportunity to learn or get new experience.
10Where can I study to become a fruit inspector? To qualify for university access for a B.Sc. degree you will need mathematics and physical sciences in matric. Life sciences is also strongly recommended if you wish to obtain a qualification in biological sciences.
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