Farmer Focus : Hendrick Visser 14/01/05

WE HAD a great Christmas this year spent in the company of my relatives. But I was shocked seeing the effects of the tsunami on Boxing Day. There are no words for so much grief and pain. Normally such news doesn’t affect me, but with this the images stayed with me. It makes you grateful for what you’ve got. Tomorrow things could be totally different.

This year our Brussels sprouts area will be on a smaller scale – down 7ha to 22ha (54 acres). As an alternative we’re growing onion sets. As a crop it needs attention and can be quite risky. Disease control can be difficult, and germination must be equal because you get paid for a certain size. If germination isn’t right you can get size rejections and not paid. So why start? Our farm scale is not big, so we can only make a living by growing high value crops.

For the first time we’re also going to grow our own seed potatoes for next year because, I think, the price of certain varieties is being kept scandalously high by the big trade companies.

There are other cost-cutting measures we are also considering: Changing to liquid fertiliser, and employing a contractor to lift our potatoes. Could the latter do so quicker and better than we can for a price that would be interesting?

Another goal I have for this year is to get our administration on a professional level. Unfortunately this means spending more time on the computer, which is not my greatest hobby. I seem to be spending more time on farm-related matters instead of real farming. But I must watch out it doesn’t affect growing crops because that is still the starting point of a successful farming business.

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