On 26 February 55 delegates from the Under 40s Fruit Growers left Heathrow for a five-day visit to South Africa.
The Under 40s was set up in 1967 and has developed over the years as a networking group for young people in the fruit growing industry. It still has the four objectives that it was set up to achieve:
- Be an effective forum for debate and new ideas
- Provide an opportunity to learn more about other sectors of the industry, new innovations and best practice
- Learn about production systems abroad
- Build social and professional networks to help combat isolation issues and enhance career development
Having arrived early on Monday morning, the programme got underway with a visit to Zetlers strawberry farm at Stellenbosch en route to the 1692 Spier Hotel that was to be ‘home’ during the Conference.
The Under 40s Conferences depend heavily on the generosity of sponsors. This was the first Under 40s Conference to visit the southern hemisphere and could not have taken place without sponsorship. Representatives of sponsors traveling with the party were given an opportunity to brief delegates about their products and services.
The main sponsors were: Certis, Phoenix Media Network, ICL, Landseer, Koppert, AC Goatham, Mudwalls, Lallemand Plant Care, Barclays, Haynes Agricultural, Hortech Solutions, Lyca Mobile and Agrovista.
The programme included visits to 10 different growers over the five days, covering soft-fruit, top-fruit and stone-fruit. The growers ranged in size from small family businesses to large companies producing over 60,000 tonnes of fruit. There were also visits to machinery manufacturer Red Ant and the South African Plant Improvement Organisation (SAPO).