Dube TradePort, attending the Royal Show 2013

24 May 2013

For the first time, Dube TradePort is showcasing the future farming platform - Dube AgriZone - to KwaZulu-Natal’s agricultural community, at the 162nd annual agricultural Royal Show.

At their stand in the Mercury Festival of Fine Living Hall, Dube AgriZone successful operations will be on display and two new facilities - Dube AgriLab and a Fresh Produce Value Adding Distribution Centre – will be introduced.

Dube AgriZone’s stand is themed as a flower market – where potted flowers, grown at the AgriZone, can be purchased. A mini-greenhouse displaying different phases of cucumber, tomato and pepper plants will demonstrate the growing process inside the AgriZone's state-of-the-art greenhouse system. To also illustrate the propagation process at Dube AgriLab there will be a display of 4 stages of plant growth from shoot tip to soil.

Dube AgriZone

Dube AgriZone is the most technologically-advanced future farming platform in Africa and has the largest climate-controlled growing area under glass on the continent. Phase one development of Dube AgriZone, undertaken over a two-year period, was completed recently. This is Africa’s first integrated perishables supply chain and its close proximity to the airport ensures minimal handling time from harvest to transit.

This sophisticated agricultural growing, packing and distribution facility comprises a 16-hectare glasshouse growing area, four dedicated pack-houses, a distribution and value adding centre, leased and operated by Farmwise, and Dube AgriLab, an ultra-modern plant tissue culture facility, with the capacity to produce more than 5 million plantlets per annum and which is well positioned for the export of young plantlets around the world. The primary role of this facility is contract plant propagation by request or order.

All Dube AgriZone operations are off-set by a range of ‘green’ initiatives, inclusive of rainwater harvesting, solar energy usage and the growth of indigenous plants for site-wide rehabilitation purposes.
Dube AgriZone currently focuses on the production of short shelf-life vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers and yellow and red peppers, together with the production of potted and cut flowers which require immediate post-harvest distribution and airlifting.
In fact, some 40 tonnes of fresh produce is grown at Dube AgriZone every week by Qutom Farms.

With the capacity to grow over 1 million flowerpots per annum in Dube AgriZone, Carmel Nurseries, active in one of the greenhouses, grows cut flowers in line with a contract to supply Amsterdam with Thai Tulips. This involves exporting 30 000 tulips a week between October and March, being the Dutch off-season.

The securing of such a high-profile export contract is a significant benefit to Dube TradePort and will most certainly lead to ever-greater confidence in the professional ability of this future farming platform by agricultural role-players nationally and internationally.

Dube AgriLab

Dube AgriLab, the first commercial micro-propagation laboratory in KwaZulu-Natal, providing the local agricultural sector with a competitive edge in producing crops for the local and international market. Currently AgriLab is the only facility in South Africa with the ability to produce sugar cane and Thai Tulip young plants.

“Dube AgriLab is an ultra-modern plant tissue culture facility capable of servicing both the horticultural and agricultural industry. Dube AgriLab is currently producing NovaCane®, sugarcane plants in collaboration with the South African Sugar Research Institute for cane growers in South Africa and further afield. It is also involved in ornamental plants for pot-plant and cut flower production. One such example is the propagation of Thai Tulip young plantlets within the AgriLab, which produce true to type, disease free plants. This service has been crucial in allowing Carmel Nurseries to meet its contract of supplying 30 000 stems per week to Amsterdam, during the Dutch off season” – added Mlibo Bantwini, Dube TradePort's AgriZone Executive

Dube AgriLab is perfectly positioned in the AgriZone, immediately adjacent to King Shaka International Airport and attendant integrated business platform, for the export of young plants all over the world.

Dube AgriLab was purpose-built to propagate and supply high quality young plants through tissue culture. The facility comprises a large clean-room area with three individually insulated and sterile transfer rooms and three individually climate-controlled grow rooms, together with a growing medium preparation area, washing facilities and hardening facilities.

Dube AgriLab will also introduce insect-proof hardening facilities, especially designed for rooting and growing on tender ex vitro plants, so as to be able to supply disease free, high quality greenhouse – or field-ready – plugs as required.

Also recently to become operational in Dube AgriZone, is the state-of-the-art value adding and distribution packhouse, which meets international HCCP standards (Hazard analysis and critical control points).

This 4 100 square metre high-care Fresh Produce Value Adding Distribution Centre, the first of its kind in KwaZulu-Natal, draws quality produce from both in and outside the AgriZone. Operated by an independent company, Farmwise (Pty) Ltd., the centre, which meets the most stringent standards of hygiene, prepares individual and mixed vegetable packs.

The facility is actively involved in ‘staging’, utilizing seven ripening rooms to ripen pre-harvested produce specifically to meet consumer demand, giving the AgriZone a decided competitive advantage over standard producers by being able to respond to market demands faster. This facility is positioned to take advantage of the rising demand of pre-packed and convenience foods. Farmwise has a diverse customer base, inclusive of Woolworths and Freshmark (Shoprite & Checkers) and specialises in gem squashes, peppers, pineapples, bananas, butternuts, potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as prepared pre-cut produce, which is unique in KwaZulu-Natal.