Australia – the sweet spot for South African citrus expert
Rolf Swart stumbled upon a career in agriculture while waiting tables at a restaurant in South Africa and he hasn’t looked back since.
Although an unconventional start, Rolf’s passion for the citrus industry has established him as an expert in the field, and more recently, a Griffith resident, practicing his passion throughout the New South Wales Riverina region.
“I was waiting tables at a restaurant in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, following my final year of studies in Biological Sciences when a friend and fellow waiter approached me,” says Rolf.
“She showed me a newspaper advertisement posted by the Sundays River Citrus Company (SRCC),”
“They were looking for a Technical Field Officer and my B.Sc. degree suited the credentials. Twenty-three years down the line I have now spent half my life in and around the citrus industry with absolutely no regrets.”
Rolf joined SRCC in 1998 and spent fourteen years there developing his skills as a citrus agronomist.
“I helped over a hundred citrus farmers produce high volumes of quality citrus of which over 80 per cent was exported to lucrative overseas markets,”
“I learnt every technical aspect of producing export citrus including cultivar choice, fertiliser, crop protection, pruning, weed control, crop manipulation and a whole host more.”
In 2012, he ventured into the supplier side of the crop protection industry by joining Villa Crop Protection as a Regional Manager in the northern parts of South Africa. Here he applied his technical knowledge to expand and market the company’s product portfolio in citrus.
By 2017, Rolf had an MBA under his belt and had spent nineteen years in agriculture as a consulting agronomist and marketer. The next step was sales, and he joined Adama South Africa as a regional sales manager of the citrus portfolio. Rolf drove his region to exceed sales targets three years in a row, cementing his role as a well-respected person in the South African citrus industry.
The curveball that took Rolf to Australia was his wife’s suggestion to take on a new adventure, landing him a role with Elders Griffith to assist customers in the Riverina region.
“We [the team and Rolf] got on like a house on fire and one year after our first interview I set foot in Griffith,” he says.
“In the two months I’ve been here I have already noticed many areas of improvement, especially regarding the production of high-quality export citrus,”
“The potential of the region is vast and I’m looking forward to applying my twenty-three years of experience from a highly successful citrus exporting country to build wealth and prosperity for many growers in my new home – Australia.”
Elders has production experts like Rolf in branches across Australia who can help you maximise your returns.