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

Information provided by:
Bezuidenhout J 2017. Subtrop Journal Volume 17. SAAGA – yesterday and tomorrow. MediaCom Uitgewers en Verteenwoordigers

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).

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).

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

First Avocado Grower Meeting

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.

First Name Change

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

Final Name Change

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

First Research Committee

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.

Oil Content Norms

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

First Field Officer

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

Monitoring Fruit Condition Overseas

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.

Fruit Firmness Instrument

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

ANA Established

The formation of the Avocado Nurserymens’ Association under the auspices of SAAGA to manage the avocado plant improvement scheme.

First International Avocado Symposium

SAAGA had the privilege to host the first international avocado Symposium due to the huge contribution of the distinguished avocado pioneer, Jan Toerien.

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Densimeter introduced

The implementation of the densimeter and in-line fruit firmness measuring by Stefan Köhne.

Köhne, Kremer-Köhne & Gay: 1998

World Avocado Organization Established

The World Avocado Organization (WAO) was established in February 2016 as a multinational non-profit organisation to spread the word about this ‘superfood’. WAO represents the world’s largest avocado producers, exporters and importers, including Peru, South Africa, Mexico, Colombia, Spain, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Mozambique.

SAAGA Celebrates 50 Years

SAAGA celebrated their 50th Year at the annual Research Symposium.