Barnard ties with Tikketai

Jun 7, 2022 | Community

Ruben Barnard, both producer to and shareholder of Tikketai, wholesaler of broccoli and cauliflower all year round. With him is Hanlie Shulze who is dedicated to ensure first grade product from the field.

Ruben Barnard farms at the foot of Jonkersberg near George and has been one of the broccoli and cauliflower producers of Tikketai since 2002.  

He is the fourth generation to farm on this land. Before coming to the farm permanently he completed his BSc Agric Degree after which he specialised in Hydroponics. “One of the most delicate and critical moments in the life of a family business is when it transfers from one generation to another. 

For such a business to grow the two generations need to blend the best of the old practices still relevant, the know-how and skills acquired over years of experience with new technology and innovative ways of doing things”, Ruben says.

Relationships towards growth

Tikketai CEO Burger Gericke, states that their producers who plant, grow and nurture the broccoli and cauliflower, are an inevitable part of Tikketai’s business. “We always strive to ensure that there are good standing relationships in place and that our producers get reasonable prices for their inputs and efforts.

Ruben explains that there are many benefits from a business perspective for farmers who provide broccoli and cauliflower to Tikketai. “Tikketai gives us a planting programme, mutual agreement is reached on the quality product that is expected and the price is agreed upon beforehand. So if you as a producer do your part to ensure the expected quality by planting the seedlings correctly, proper irrigation, fertilization, and pest control, you have certainty that Tikketai will buy all the broccoli and cauliflower you deliver.” 

Ruben grows about 110 hectares of broccoli and cauliflower all year round. The turnaround from planting to harvesting broccoli during the summer is about 8 weeks and about 12 weeks in the coldest months. Cauliflower takes about a week longer.

Being both boss and broccoli

He so strongly bought into the product, business strategy, and direction that Ruben invested in Tikketai after being only a producer for about six years. Now he is wearing both hats – that of the producer and that of the wholesaler. 

According to Ruben this is sometimes a tight spot to be in, especially when they talk price. 

“As a farmer, you want to get the best price for your product but as a shareholder of Tikketai, you also want to pay a competitive price for that same product. This position forces one to get to an agreement that is fair and worth it for all”, he adds.

Ruben explains, “The trust relationship between farmers and Tikketai is pivotal to our collaborated success. This is how together we ensure that the consumer gets first-grade broccoli on their plates all year round.” 

Farming for first grade

Ruben believes that the best fertilizer for your crops is a farmer’s footsteps in the field. He, therefore, appointed Hanlie Schulze about four years ago to assist him in ensuring that the correct irrigation programme, fertilization programme, and preventative pest and disease spray programmes are being followed.  

Hanlie explains that the quality control already starts when the seedlings are planted in the fields to avoid J-foot. “This is when the taproot is not planted vertically and then turns and grows horizontally and literally looks like the letter J underground”, she explains.

While the crops are growing, we make sure that the soil moisture levels are at the optimal levels for growth, and we check for diseases and pests. She says that even wind can cause chaos by leaving a layer of sand and soil on the broccoli and cauliflower heads having a direct impact on the quality.

A vital stage in quality control is when the broccoli and cauliflower heads have reached the perfect size for harvesting. “The fields can be muddy, and we make sure that the produce stays clean and clear of this mud while cutting it for delivery”, she adds. 


The three-year drought since 2018 was quite a challenge as we have a very specific irrigation schedule to ensure the optimal growth of our crops. “I had to make good decisions in terms of where to plant the seedlings and I had to plea for water with some of my neighbouring farmers. Thankfully we got through it”, he says.

The broccoli and cauliflower are harvested by hand, making them extremely labour intensive. Managing labour and maintaining labour relations stays a continuous focus area for smooth operations.

The greatest continuous struggle for farmers is the dramatic increases in input costs for electricity, fertilizers, fuel, and agrochemicals. “The challenge is that one runs a business and needs to make a profit on your product, but with the knowledge that the consumer cannot absorb the full impact of rising input costs. When it comes to the quality, we commit to deliver, one cannot take shortcuts on preventative disease and pest control programmes, irrigation and fertilizer”, he claims. 

Advice to upcoming farmers

Ruben does not have a motto in life, but he believes in honesty and integrity. His down-to crux advice to others is, “When you are in doubt whether you should do something, just do it. One should always be able to say that you have done everything in your ability to deliver what you have committed to.”  

He applies this to broccoli and cauliflower by saying that if you pick up a disease in your crops and you wonder whether you should spend the money to ensure that it does not break it – do it. “Because when you harvest the land, you will be able to that you could not have done anything more to ensure the quality of this product”, he concludes.

He also advises new and upcoming farmers and businessmen to rather start small and do things right and then focus on growing their business slowly and sustainably.

Ruben’s vision for Tikketai

His vision for Tikketai is to someday export its product. He would also like to explore more production lines for broccoli and cauliflower which could address other market segments.

Ruben at home

Ruben is married to Sanet and they have two girls. Sanet is into culinary arts and they love experimenting with new and different food. Ruben loves a game of golf on Saturdays but on Sunday they spend time together as a family. 

And for the record, he would just like to confirm that they all do eat broccoli.