Farmworkers’ son brings new outlook to Culdevco board

Commercial farmer Sewis van der Horst has been appointed to the board of directors of a major player in the international arena of deciduous fruit licensing

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Sewis van der Horst, the son of farmworkers and an award-winning farmer in his own right, is set to bring deep expertise and perspective as he joins the Culdevco board of directors.

The 2019 Toyota New Harvest winner owns Loufontein, a commercial-scale fruit farm in Villiersdorp in the Western Cape. In an exclusive interview with Food For Mzansi he says he looks forward to contributing to the advancement of the industry, as well as sharing his knowledge and experiences spanning over two decades.

Today, Culdevco is a major player in global deciduous fruit licensing and the commercialisation of these fruit varieties. The group consists of five shareholders, namely Hortgro Stone, Hortgro Pome, the Canning Producers’ Association, the South Africa Table Grape Industry and Raisins SA.

Van der Horst also serves on the board of the SAPO Trust, a deciduous fruit plant improvement organisation, and the producer board of Hortgro Pome.

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Duncan Masiwa: Being appointed to the Culdevco board of directors is quite an achievement, especially given your own background in agriculture. What does this mean for you?

Sewis van der Horst: The appointment ensures and means access to conversations that deal with the fruit industry. It’s an opportunity to contribute to the advancement of the industry for all as well as discuss the challenges of the industry, new varieties, new ways of thinking, new and improved plant material available to the industry.

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It means that I will also get to know exactly how we compete or compare with the international players in terms of cultivar development and marketing.

What do you hope to accomplish in this role?

To truly contribute. I want to share my knowledge of the industry as a producer and what we really need from Culdevco.

As an award-winning fruit farmer, what are the challenges you believe need urgent attention in the fruit industry?

We need to work closely with mainstream or organised agriculture. We need access to land and finance models that will accommodate new entrants with lower rates and/or blended finance. We need to own the farms we lease to enable us to operate as normal producers

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Contributing to food security, providing jobs, but also to live out my passion. Agriculture is innovative and we will need to be much smarter in order to stay sustainable.

Honestly speaking, was agriculture always your number one career choice and did you ever think that you would be this successful?

Agriculture was the obvious choice. I always knew I wanted to farm, but doing it for yourself is the ultimate. I know I will be able to function outside of primary agriculture, but for 27 years I have been in commercial agriculture and I am not going to make any moves now.

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