South African agriculture is rich in diversity thanks to its climate and range of environments. Whether it be the vast open fields of maize in the centre of the country to irrigated dairy and strawberry farms in the south, there is certainly a variety of ecosystems and agricultural enterprises to experience.
2014 marks the tenth consecutive year that Quadrant Australia has offered their tours to South Africa, and in that time more than 200 Australian and New Zealand farming families have enjoyed a tour that truly encapsulates the best of South African agriculture, wildlife and scenery.
Quadrant's Best of South Africa tour commences in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa, and then heads north to Madikwe Game Reserve - a malaria and FMD free reserve on the border with Botswana. From Madikwe the tour transects the country from north to south through the farming heartland. A variety of interesting, practical and efficient livestock and cropping operations are visited, as well as a most informative day at NAMPO Field Days - one of the largest machinery and agricultural field days in the world.
The Tour follows the world famous Garden Route along the south coast all the way to Cape Town and the winelands of the Western Cape. The scenery is superb!
South Africa really is "A World in One Country", and the game viewing is breathtaking. Once you have driven amongst a herd of elephants, or seen a pride of lions within a stone's throw of your jeep - you will know what we mean.
You will find agricultural production a bit different to that in Australia. For example much of the cattle breeding takes place in a pretty harsh environment, with feedlots playing an important role in final turn-off. Nguni is Africa's indigenous cattle breed and plays an important part in South Africa's beef industry having adapted significantly to their environment and landscape. Nguni cattle are a smaller beast which means more can run per hectare. Plus they have an ability to handle their environments, they lack calving issues, they possess good mothering abilities along with many other positive attributes such as longevity, fertility, disease resistance to tick borne diseases, their crossbreeding ability and good health of weaners in feedlots.
Dryland maize production is by far the largest grain crop in South Africa. With around 50 million mouths to feed, very little gets exported beyond a few neighbouring African countries. Sheep and goat production in many cases go hand in hand with holistic grazing practice.
Like Australian farmers, South African farmers in the last few years have experienced their share of droughts and unfavourable markets, and as a result they have looked for alternatives to make a profit. Many have diversified their enterprises so as to not rely on one industry and nowadays game farming is big business, with large projects underway to replace depleted numbers of endangered species as well as provide trophy animals for hunting lodges in far flung parts of the continent.An indication of the country's diverse agricultural enterprises is experienced on Quadrant's Best of South Africa tour, with visits to some of the best farming operations in the country. These include a maize, lawn and chicken farm, a Bonsmara stud and game farm, a Merino stud, a dairy and potato farm, a strawberry farm and a Nguni cattle stud and a winery.
The hospitality amongst the farming community is beyond belief - these people really know how to entertain around the 'braai' - that's the Afrikaans word for 'barbie'! The food, laughs, stories and ambience is unforgettable. All time appears to stop as you become immersed in their presence and generosity.
According to Albury couple Helen and Ian Watson, "We were touched by the visit to The Four Brothers mixed farm which provided a primary school for the workers children. These children have a unique opportunity to gain a solid education, they entertained the Quadrant tour party, and we participated in the concert. The school was gifted with some useful items for learning from Australia and NZ, and money was donated for a school excursion." They went on to say "A very well balanced agribusiness tour which encompasses many high quality farm stops, unique landscapes and exciting safari stays".
In a nutshell, if you are interested in agriculture, and want to have a great trip to Africa - this is an unforgettable tour!
We were touched by the visit to The Four Brothers mixed farm which provided a primary school for the workers children. These children have a unique opportunity to gain a solid education, they entertained the Quadrant tour party, and we participated in the concert. The school was gifted with some useful items for learning from Australia and NZ, and money was donated for a school excursion." They went on to say "A very well balanced agribusiness tour which encompasses many high quality farm stops, unique landscapes and exciting safari stays.
Albury couple Helen and Ian Watson