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Johnny van der Walt – Napier Boerdery

Garlic grower plans on expanding market window

South African garlic has its work cut out competing with Chinese and Spanish garlic on its domestic market. An antidumping duty has long been in place to rein in the impact of Chinese garlic imports.

Fortunately, remarks Johnny van der Walt of the farm Napier near Settlers on the Springbokvlakte of southern Limpopo, many consumers seek out the purplish South African garlic for its stronger taste (right), even if its cloves are smaller than the big, snow-white irradiated cloves of imported garlic.

"We will start lifting the first garlic this year around 15 August, until about mid-September or mid-October," he says. They grow 20 hectares of garlic, about triple the surface area of last year. "We leave the garlic in wind rows, then it's gathered up and worked over in the shed."

Cleaning the garlic bulbs is very hard work. Their garlic all goes to the municipal markets in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Springs (plus a bit last year to the Cape Town fresh produce market) in 5kg bags.

They find it difficult to compete on price with imported garlic; their own average per bag was R130 (6.4 euros) across all grades last year, while during their marketing window imported garlic was obtaining very high prices, up to R800 (almost 40 euros) for a 10kg carton, while domestic garlic did not fall into the same price bracket.

Processing-grade garlic available
Since well-stored garlic keep so well, the plan this year is to market into the new year. In 2023 their garlic campaign ended late November.

"We grow with the intention of cropping large garlic, which earns higher prices and sells better, but you always have your 5% or 10% of small and medium cloves. An offtake agreement with a processor or buyer taking the smaller grades in large quantities would be advantageous," Van der Walt says.

To rotate crops on their lands, seed maize (corn) is grown on contract for Bayer, or oats for their Dorper sheep, or pumpkins (mostly Hubbard) for fresh sales, also at the municipal markets.

For more information:
Johnny van der Walt
Plaas Napier
Tel: +27 82 811 7430
Email: [email protected]