The Japie Groenewald Trust
Founder of packer-exporter Betko Fresh Produce
The Japie Groenewald Trust is the legacy of Japie Groenewald, founder of packer-exporter Betko Fresh Produce, who showed true entrepreneurial spirit in building what is today one of the leading grower-exporter organisations in South Africa.
Japie Groenewald was one of the South African fruit trade's most colourful figures. He was a leading entrepreneur who helped to transform the country's fresh produce business from its highly regulated form during the single-channel era, to deregulation, that has seen exports from the country double in little more than 15 years.
Japie Groenewald was one of the most modest members of the South African industry and has made an immeasurable contribution to the fruit growing community in the Villiersdorp region
Dawie Rossouw, a well-known Capespan and industry fruit specialist, who has been involved with growers in the Elgin-Villiersdorp region for more than 30 years.
Japie grew up on a smallholding alongside the Sonderend River, below the Riviersonderend Mountains in the Western Cape, where he later founded family farm, Oubos.
During the regulated era, he started his own local fruit distribution business and, when international markets opened up, seized the opportunity and later become one of South Africa's leading exporters.
Betko's modern cold storage and fruit packaging complex at Villiersdorp was subsequently established and became a rallying point for many smaller producers.
During the first decade of the new century, the Betko business expanded rapidly and Japie played a pioneering role in developing the African market. Betko now packs around 50,000 tonnes of apples and pears every year.
The two divisions operating under the umbrella of the JapieGroenewald Trust are Betko Fresh Produce and the Japie Groenewald Farms.
The legacy of Japie Groenewald is carried forward by his family, by his sons Roux and Japie jr.
The Japie Groenewald Trust controls the investments of the Groenewald Family.
Betko Fresh Produce includes the cold storage and packing facilities at the Villiersdorp head quarters, as well as the distribution and marketing activities.
The Japie Groenewald Farms include three fruit farming units in the Sonderenend Valley below the Theewaterskloof Dam towards Riviersonderend.
Near the town of Riviersonderend, is the jewel of the Groenewald family's fruit farming activities. Oubos is the birthplace of Japie Groenewald, who 20 years ago acquired sole ownership of the farm where previously 18 families made a living from indigenous timber and vegetable farming. Japie immediately started to develop the farm until completion in 1996. The farm is currently planted with 120 hectares of deciduous fruit.
Today Oubos is a model farm, where rich soils, a unique micro-climate, together with the planting of preferred varieties of apples and pears, combine to produce some of the finest fruit in South Africa.
The 120 hectares of orchards produce between 18,000 and 22,000 bulk bins of fruit annually.
Care for the environment is clearly visible at Oubos, where Japie Groenewald insisted that none of the pristine indigenous forests is affected by the fruit farming activities. Even the oak trees where each of the original families had their little 'opstal' (home) were preserved and none of the original oak trees were removed.
Oubos is a credit to Japie's entrepreneurial skills and vision and the Groenewald family is determined to repeat the successes achieved at Oubos and elsewhere in its fruit-growing activities.
Sunnyside is situated closer to Villiersdorp, down-stream from the massive Theewaterskloof Dam which covers so much of the Villiersdorp/Vyeboom region.
Sunnyside was bought in 2001 as a fully developed farming unit. All the principles of good agricultural practice have been introduced, in the same way as at Oubos.
Sunnyside now consists of 180 hectares of apples and 70 hectares of pears under full production.
Soetmelksvlei is a newly developed 240 hectare apple and pear farming unit in the Sonderend Valley between the towns Greyton and Riviersonderend.
Japie Groenewald started the project in 2008. Planting commenced in 2009 and finished in 2011. Some of the latest preferred varieties of apples and pears are grown at Soetmelksvlei. When in full production the farm will add significantly to Betko’s product portfolio.