Grabouw celebrates strong Japanese ties
With its green-hued mountains and picturesque valley, The Western Cape village of Grabouw isn’t an obvious example of a successful and constantly growing relationship with Japan.
Fuji Suprema, a Top 10 most-sold apple variety in South Africa, comes originally from Japan and has found a happy home in South African soil. Although fresh apples and pears cannot be exported to Japan because of that country’s specific phyto-sanitary requirements, processed products like South African wines can be. “While apples and pears make up 70% of our business”, says Tru-Cape grower James Downes who also produces the acclaimed Shannon Wines, “increasingly our wines are finding a welcome home, especially in Japan, which is one of our largest international customers.”
The earth moving machinery company Komatsu celebrates 100 years in business in 2021. The company, headquartered in Japan’s Komatsu City, started in 1921 and today has more than 5000 employees. Komatsu’s relationship with South Africa stems from 1963 and they provide equipment and support for agriculture.
According to Graeme Cherry of Cherry Diggers, Komatsu plays an integral part in earth preparation for South Africa’s deciduous industry which, today, employs more than 1.34 jobs per hectare which equates to 107 371 jobs and 429 485 people impacted by the success of the industry.
“Cherry Diggers, based in Grabouw, provides the agricultural industry with the complete range of earthmoving equipment they need to establish a fruit orchard. According to Cherry, a resident of Grabouw for more than 40 years, his main aim is to provide a “one-stop shop”, meaning that he constantly has to purchase new machinery. “People buy from people, and as important as the relationship is with our clients, it is with our suppliers. Komatsu has been part of our team from day one, and is definitely part of our success today.” Cherry says.
For James Downes, the current holder of Two-a-Day’s Chairman’s Award for the Highest Income Per Hectare, the role that successful soil preparation plays in the quality of fruit cannot be underestimated and on his farm the positive impact of Komatsu equipment from Cherry Diggers is meaningful. “10 years ago you never saw an excavator in open land preparing a new orchard. Now it’s the norm.” Downes ends.
Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, the largest marketer of South African apples and pears, says that about half a million cartons of South African-grown Fuji apples have been sold in the last two years.
Cherry says that improvements to agricultural production are largely due to the machinery available to develop foundations for crops. “The earthworks, soil preparation, ridging and higher-density pole planting requirements for modern orchards are now all possible thanks to purpose-designed equipment from Komatsu. It is thanks to company’s like Komatsu who are invested in South Africa that we able to keep up with international agricultural trends.” Cherry ends.