Sonop scoops ‘Producer of the Year’ award

Sonop’s industry-leading tomato crops received yet another accolade at the 2015 National Horticulture Awards, where our very own Albert van der Merwe was crowned Producer of the Year. At an awards ceremony held right here at Sonop on National Horticulture Day, it was van der Merwe’s innovative farming techniques that were in the spotlight, as key members of the industry gathered to honour their own.

Nominees for the prestigious title were evaluated by a selection committee comprising representatives of the National Horticulture Task Team (NHTT), AMTA, the Namibia Horticulture Producers (NAHOP) and Agribusdev, who travelled across the country to perform assessments and appraisals of all nominated farms.

Farms were awarded based on their ability to achieve optimal yields and reduce the need for retail imports, something that Sonop has become famous for, in large part thanks to Albert’s ability to leverage the farm’s unique climate.

Using heightened support poles and additional support wire to ensure that crops grow at 45 degree angles, Albert and his team have effectively been able to add one metre to each plant, and thus doubled the farm’s potential yield.

Using shaded netting structures, the team is also able to neutralise the damaging effects of the sun during the scorching summer months, allowing them to extend the growing season and produce a total of 50 ha of tomatoes.

In addition to tomato crops, the farm also produces butternut, peppers and table grapes for both local and international markets, utilising the farm’s unique location in Noordoewer to provide top quality fruit and vegetables outside of traditional growing seasons.

Thanks to the farm’s dry climate and pest-free environment, crops are able to grow without the assistance of unnecessary chemicals and pesticides, thus resulting in a distinctive taste and quality yield that has become sought after by international retailers like Tesco.