Lucerne Field Horticulture, the biggest producer and supplier of carrots and beetroots in Botswana, prides itself in its ability to keep growing and seeking ways of producing the good quality crops while also venturing into livestock production.
The horticulture production of the company’s directors, Jan and Manjo Stiglingh, takes place on 210 hectares of irrigated farmland on the banks of the Limpopo River in the Tuli Block next to Martin’s Drift border post. Manjo says livestock production comprises pure-bred limousin studs and a mixed cattle herd producing weaners on 13 000 hectares in the Sandveld region.
The weaners are rounded off for the market at the farm’s feedlot in the Tuli Block. “The horticulture division currently employs 150 permanent staff, 65 percent of whom are female, while the livestock division employs 25 permanent staff,” Manjo told The Business Weekly & Review.
The National Development Bank (NDB) has been of great support with financing to purchase machinery and chemicals. Manjo says NDB has facilitated acquisition and installation of the farm’s world-class hydro-cooling plant that reduces the temperature of harvested carrots and beetroot rapidly.
The process is essential for supplying fresh, high quality and longer-lasting produce for transporting over Botswana’s long distances. Manjo says product cooling decreases significant post-harvest losses from bacterial infections during the rainy season. As large-scale commercial farmers, Lucerne Field Horticulture directors say it is important to continue to invest in technology so that they remain competitive in the market and that their customers receive superior quality products that last long. Theirs is the only hydro-cooler of its type in Botswana.
Manjo says they maintain two livestock herds on the farm at the moment. Limousin studs are kept on the vegetable farm in the Tuli block and a mixed herd of about 800 Brahman and Limousin animals are reared under extensive conditions at the Sandveld farm that lies about 90 kilometres south of Letlhakane. “Initially, we only had Brahman cattle on the Sandveld farm,” Manjo explains.
She says the Brahman cattle are very hardy animals suitable for a harsh environment. “We wanted to improve the amount of meat produced per animal,” she notes. They subsequently introduced Limousin bulls to the mixed herd to see if they could increase their productivity and benefit from a higher slaughter percentage.
Manjo says the high proportion of saleable meat is the key benefit of the Limousin breed. “So far we have calculated an increase from 56 percent to 60.5 percent in the slaughter rate,” she explains. They are also impressed with the milk yield, ease of calving and mothering ability of the cows and will continue partnerships with NDB should a need arise in the future.