A fruitful family legacy

By Drum Digital
26 June 2018
Ricard Myburgh, pomologist and successful farmer, and his family, run their flourishing farm and fruit packing business.

Ricard Myburgh, pomologist and successful farmer, and his family, run their flourishing farm and fruit packing business.

From hawkers to farm owners with burgeoning orchards, this young farmer and his family are making their mark in agriculture

He’s only 26 years old, but Ricard Myburgh is already an award-winning apple and pear farmer. He won the Toyota New Harvest of the Year 2017 award – and proves every day hard work goes a long way.

Ricard plants everything from Packham pears, to Golden Delicious and Pink Lady apples on his family’s farm in Vyeboom in the Western Cape, where he started as manager in 2013 at the tender age of 21.

He now takes care of production, along with his mom and dad who manage the business aspects.

His brother oversees the pack house and transport business, while his younger brother and sister are completing their studies.

“It’s a family business and we make decisions together,” he says.

Ricard’s farming story began when his father, Richard, and his father’s brother bought Cortina

Farms after selling fruit in the apple-and-pear-centred town. The Myburgh family bought the

54-hectare farm with a bank loan in 2000. His dad and mom, Yvette, ran the farm, which quickly developed into a fully-fledged business.

Today it includes a fruit-packing division, an apple and pear storage unit, as well as a marketing and transport business.

They employ around 80 farmworkers – who live on the land with their spouses and children, at no cost. There is an on-site créche where babies and toddlers are taken care of while mom and dad are at work. Ricard himself lives practically on the farm and 10km from his parents. It’s this sense of family that makes them successful, he says.

He was introduced to farm life at an early age, and was moulded by his father to love the land. He studied pomology (the science of fruit growing) at Elsenburg College in Stellenbosch,

Western Cape, after completing high school and says he had a greater affinity for the practical aspects of farming. Later, local agricultural organisation Hortgro provided training in their bid to help up-and-coming farmers.

It wasn’t always easy, but he learnt from his mistakes along the way. The current drought brought some challenges, but they drilled boreholes to combat the shortage, Ricard says.

Timing is also very important – the fruit is weather dependent in the area, which is known for its apple and pear farms.

But they’re doing well – today they export 40% of the apples and pears they produce, 50% is pumped into the local market throughout South Africa and 10% of the fruit is used for juice production.

He could be a role model for other young farmers, Ricard says. “I think I can share the knowledge

I’ve experienced over the short time. There is a future for young people in agriculture and there are a lot of opportunities with technology and science.”

Check out our interview with Ricard:

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