Brian and broccoli “tai-ed” together

Feb 28, 2023 | General

Brian Robertson, both producer for and shareholder at wholesaler of first-grade broccoli and cauliflower, Tikketai. He is a hands-on farmer checking on his crops daily to ensure that they grow, harvest and deliver a first-grade product.

Brian Robertson, is the fifth-generation farmer on Uitkyk farm, at the foot of Jonkersberg near George.  He is what one would call a hands-on farmer.  He is in and around the field all day on the quad bike or in his bakkie – always with the music playing.  He is the sole driver of his crop sprayer and is skillful behind the forklift wheel to upload produce to be sent to Tikketai. 

Brian’s ties with Tikketai

Brian is a producer of broccoli and cauliflower for Tikketai but is also a shareholder at this national wholesaler. “I find it very beneficial to operate on both sides of the line.  As a farmer and producer, I am directly involved in producing first-grade broccoli and cauliflower at a certain price.  This empowers me to be part of a team on the other side that negotiates with the farmers on quantity, quality, and price.  Tikketai CEO, Burger Gericke says, “Brian contributes a lot as a shareholder with his focus on exploring and developing avenues for value-adding product lines for the broccoli and cauliflower Tikketai wholesales”.


The Robertson footprints are deep and all over the place.

There is a beautiful family cemetery on the farm that epitomises the long history of farmers who used to live here.

His father farmed mostly with Merinos and a bit of sown crops.  “Those days were different, and farmers did not necessarily have to be commercial farmers to make a living.  My father was very much of a subsistence farmer and due to his line of farming, my experience and exposure did not cover farming with vegetables.”

How he started

Brian studied Agricultural Management and returned to the farm in 1996.  He talked to a few people and made the brave decision to borrow money from his father and planted 10 000 cauliflower seedlings in 1998.  “I remember so well standing in the road, at the corner of the farm, begging the agricultural advisor from McCains to please offer me a contract to grow vegetables.”

And that was his first step towards being what he is today.  He started growing broccoli and cauliflower for Tikketai in 2002.

Biggest lesson

The biggest lesson farming has taught me is the importance of taking the right decisions at the right time and then acting – both short and long-term.  I attribute my success mainly to the fact that I am regularly in each field.  I screen the crops in every square meter which gives me the advantage of acting immediately. 

How to be good at it

According to Brian, one needs to continuously benchmark to make sure that you are competitive in your industry and working smart using the technology available. “Only the best is good enough”, he adds.

Brian applies practices that are not new but is diligent with crop rotation. He explains, “We plant a wheat-rye hybrid that develops soil structure and increases water infiltration. When this is mulched and ploughed into the soil it has perks like breaking compaction and adding soil carbon to boost organic substance”. Besides this, he believes in resting his fields and doing regular soil evaluations. 

His story of hope

Brian is a private person but shares a piece of his journey because he believes it is a story of hope.  He went through a very tough time a few years back.  This involved a divorce, and he experienced extreme feelings of hopelessness and despair.  By the grace of God, he managed to overcome this and by looking after himself, healed and today lives an optimistic life, looking forward to the future.  “I feel better than I have ever felt before”, he says. 

He loves his music and one of his favourite songs captures how he looks at this difficult and dark time in his life.  The lyrics of the song explain how his clothes are full of tears through which his heart bleeds, but that growth will not take place without these cracks.

The big things in life

Brian lives with his two children Inge and Divan.  He hopes that his son would be interested in being the sixth generation continuing on Uitkyk. 

“My other passion is adventurous motorbiking”, he adds.  He wants to explore the country on his bike doing exciting and thrill-seeking trips.   He explains his drive for experiencing life, “My fingers have to feel they shouldn’t just touch, and my feet must roam because if we don’t live and experience life, what are fingers and feet for then?”