Banner Celebrating 30 years of growth and innovation

Celebrating 30 years of growth and innovation

What an honour it’s been to have had a place in the agricultural landscape in Africa for three very fruitful decades. We’re immensely grateful – to our people for their passion and dedication, and to our clients for their love of the land and their continued support. To celebrate our 30 year milestone, we’re looking back at our roots and looking forward to an exciting future.

Planting the first seed

With a love of farming and a passion for innovation, our founders, Barney and Ann Isralls, established Vegtech in 1992. “Agriculture was a way of life for us,” says Ann, “and we’d always had a keen interest in new developments in the industry.” While the couple could not have anticipated the company’s growth and longevity at the time, they knew one thing for sure: they were in it together. “We’d run our family farm together, so there was no question that we’d be equal partners in any venture we started,” says Barney.

Nurturing our growth

Since those early days, Vegtech (now, Vegtech Netafim) has grown from a small family business into the leading greenhouse company in Southern Africa. Many of our people have been part of our family for decades, and each one has contributed to our success. “I’m still amazed to see the fruits of years of hard work and dedication; that a ‘baby’ company has matured enough to be a worthy adversary on the world stage,” says Deon van Rooyen, now Sales Manager, who’s been part of the team since ‘96. And Farzana Umar, now Credit Controller, who’s been a dedicated team member since 2004  feels “so proud that, in my small way, I’ve been a part of this amazing journey.”

Cultivating our culture

While the size of our company has changed over the years, one thing has remained the same: we’re a family business at heart – and it’s the reason so many of our people stay with us as long as they do. “Our team is very diverse and family orientated. We’re a close-knit group who help each other wherever we can,” says Lucille Ruiters, our Purchasing Coordinator who joined us in 2004. This sentiment is echoed by Etienne Groenewald, our Financial Manager, who says, “I love the family culture and the fact that most of our people are committed to working here for the long term.” 

We know that we wouldn’t be where we are today without these incredible people. They’ve helped us become what we are today, and it’s an honour to have been able to keep them close for so long.

Celebrating special moments

There have been many milestones and moments to celebrate in the past 30 years. For Etienne, the Emseni Farming sweet pepper project is particularly memorable. He loves it for its size and scale, and even more so for the complexity and excellence of the project.

While for Neta Isralls, who joined the family business in 2013, a personal highlight has been the opportunity for collaboration. “I always enjoy meeting up with our colleagues and partners around the world, whether that’s at the Greentech expos in Amsterdam, at training workshops in Israel or Poland, or being able to welcome them here in South Africa.”

And for Ann, the most special moments have been about people and perseverance. “I love hearing people say that they enjoy working in such a caring environment. I love hearing that we’ve made a farmer happy. And I’m incredibly proud that we’ve weathered many storms and sleepless nights, and ultimately used those tough times to learn and grow.” 

Looking to an abundant future

What do the next 30 years hold? “I feel like we’re just getting started,” says Neta, “and I’m excited about three things in particular – our expansion into Africa, incorporating new technologies into our offering, and the commitment of our international partners, Netafim and Orbia, to becoming foremost global greenhouse companies.” 

This message is echoed by Ann, who says, “We have a great team of experts with incredible resources, expertise and knowledge – and we plan to share this technology and experience with farmers in Africa as part of our mission to turn the continent green!” 

Finally, for Barney, the future is bright for the company he co-founded 30 years ago. “It’s impossible not to be excited about our next chapter when we’re at the forefront of helping to solve two of humanity’s most pressing problems: food and water security. We have many targets to reach and goals to achieve. And while for some of us at Vegtech Netafim, our journey is almost complete, for others it’s just beginning.”