SAAGA History

After the establishment of the first avocado orchard in the 1920’s by Mr. Harry Ludman, the number of farmers who took to producing avocado crops grew quickly. Many years later, in the mid-sixties, these same farmers realised that they would have to work together if they wanted to obtain the greatest possible benefits from their investments.

On November 27, 1967, the first meeting of avocado growers was held at Westfalia Estates near Tzaneen. The farmers discussed the possibility of better communication and the chances of increasing the potential they saw for the avocado on the overseas markets. Prof. Ballie Kotzé was the chairman at the meeting. He retired as the research coordinator in 1994.

The meeting led to the formation of an “Avocado Growers Export Coordinating Committee” with Mr. A J Cresswell of Koolkat (Pty) Ltd, an export agent, as convener.  In January 1969, the name was changed to the “Transvaal Avocado Growers’ Association”, and thus the organization continued until August 9, 1971, when it became known as the South African Avocado Growers’ Association.

SAAGA’s philosophy was sound and the positive results of the industry are an example of voluntary cooperation on a national level which seldom, if ever before, has been achieved in the agricultural sphere in South Africa.

SAAGA History Timeline
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  • 1920

    First Avocado Orchard

    First Avocado Orchard

    January 1, 1920

    1st Established South African Avocado Orchard

    Harry Ludman established the first avocado orchards with West Indian race seedlings planted in the Durban region (Ludman, 1930).  Unfortunately due to the poor condition of the fruits, the venture attracted little commercial attention (Anonymous, 1965).

  • 1930

    Expansions

    Expansions

    January 1, 1930

    Westfalia & H.L. Hall & Sons

    Dr. Merensky (Westfalia) and Lanion Hall (H.L. Hall & Sons) started planting orchards and had more success.

    The greening disease caused havoc under citrus, which avocado trees replaced and from there the industry expanded (Ludman, 1930).

  • 1930

    Railways

    Railways

    January 1, 1930
    Railways

    Railway Trucks

    The photo of this 15 ton insulated rail truck dates back to the 1930s. These trucks were used to dispatch avocados from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

  • 1967

    First Avocado Grower Meeting

    First Avocado Grower Meeting

    November 27, 1967

    The first meeting between avocado growers was held at Westfalia Estates. This meeting was chaired by Prof. Ballie Kotzé. The meeting led to the formation of an Avocado Growers Export Coordinating Committee with Mr. A J Cresswell of Koolkat (Pty) Ltd, an export agent, as convener.

  • 1969

    First Name Change

    First Name Change

    January 1, 1969

    The Avocado Growers Export Coordinating Committee name changed to Transvaal Avocado Growers’ Association.

  • 1971

    Final Name Change

    Final Name Change

    August 9, 1971

    The Transvaal Avocado Growers’ Association became known as the South African Avocado Growers’ Association.

  • 1976

    First Research Committee

    First Research Committee

    January 1, 1976

    The first research committee were established and consisted of Jan Toerien, Ronnie Lunt, Clive Mitchell and Willie Pretorius with Prof. Kotzé as chairman until he retired in 1994.

  • 1977

    Oil Content Norms

    Oil Content Norms

    January 1, 1977

    Holtzapfel and Kuschke set the oil content norms for avocado fruit.

  • 1979

    Successful control of Phytophthora

    Successful control of Phytophthora

    January 1, 1979
    Successful control of Phytophthora

    Joe Dravas successfully controlled Phytophthora with Metalaxyl within one year (Darvas, Kotzé & Toerien, 1979).

  • 1981

    First Field Officer

    First Field Officer

    January 1, 1981

    SAAGA employed Nino Burelli as the first field officer, by this SAAGA embarked on extension services

  • 1981

    Monitoring Fruit Condition Overseas

    Monitoring Fruit Condition Overseas

    January 1, 1981

    With SAAGA having issues with fruit on the overseas market, Eileen Kuschke from the University of Pretoria was requested to monitor fruit condition on the Paris market at Rungis. This work was continued in the 1980’s with Hubert Leclereq and Don Wescott and in the 1990’s to 2017 with Richard Nelson.

  • 1981

    Fruit Firmness Instrument

    Fruit Firmness Instrument

    January 1, 1981
    Fruit Firmness Instrument

    Blackie Swart constructed an instrument whereby fruit firmness could be quantified.