Cabbage season has arrived, and the Ncedisa agriculture labour force is hard at work on the Habata Agri farmlands to bring the best quality produce to your kitchen. Underrated by many, this leafy green vegetable is packed with minerals and vitamins.
For centuries cabbage has been regarded as a “poor man’s meal” and struggled with a negative reputation not only in South Africa but around the globe. Contrary to the negative perceptions, there are many tasty and luscious meals that can be made from this nutritional leafy green vegetable.
Once associated with poverty, cabbage is now taking centre stage by being incorporated into a wide variety of dishes and used by top chefs around the world in prestigious menus. Cabbage is no longer just an addition for soups and stews but also used to make salads, wraps, stir fry’s, curry’s, roasts, casseroles and many more.
Understanding the value of cabbage, Ncedisa farmworkers started the cabbage season nurturing indoor seed trays of which 1.25 million seedlings were planted. These seedlings are carefully cultivated, harvested, packed and prepared for distribution.
Roughly 50 hectares of the Green Coronet cabbage variety has been planted for the harvest season that takes place from September. The entire process takes about 90 days from planting to reach the mature and ready to harvest product.
Once the hardy vegetable is ready, Ncedisa employs about 500 farmworkers who are divided into teams to harvest, sort and pack the ready produce. It is a labour-intensive job that requires dedicated supervisors and staff to undergo the process of harvesting 90% of the estimated 1.25million plants.
To qualify for harvest, each cabbage is inspected according to health and size. Each cabbage is individually inspected, cut at the base of the cabbage head with a sharp knife and ideally weigh approximately 3kg.
The season’s harvest is mostly destined for export to Lesotho and distributed to specific fresh produce markets throughout South Africa. The leaves and cabbages not suitable for distribution are ploughed back into the soil as green material filled with nutrients that boost the growth of melons which are the next rotational crop to be farmed in the soil.
Cooked or consumed raw, this hardy vegetable is destined to soon shake its unfortunate reputation and become a desirable ingredient in all kitchens.