South Africa Mourns the Loss of Vito Rugani, Visionary Carrot Farmer


By Staff Reporter

POLOKWANE-This week, the agricultural community and beyond are grieving the loss of a pioneering carrot farmer who passed away.

On the 15th of April 2024, Vito Rugani took his final step into eternity, leaving behind a legacy that will forever influence our lives.

Known for his innovative farming techniques and environmental advocacy, Rugani was not just a farmer but a trailblazer in agricultural sustainability.

His passing has elicited a flood of condolences from across the nation, reflecting the profound impact he had on both his industry and his community.

Rugani, aged 64, was one of unyielding courage, and a testament to living life to its fullest. He left behind not just footprints but thoughtful and impactful contributions that shaped the world around him. Vito always had a lasting and thought-provoking influence on every conversation. He spoke with an unwavering authenticity, his words carrying the weight of one who speaks from the depths of the soul.

Under his guidance, Rugani Carrots became synonymous with quality and innovation. He was one of the first in Africa to adopt and perfect the process of mechanically harvesting carrots, significantly increasing efficiency and reducing waste.

The legendary carrot farmer who is the founder and part owner of Green Way Farms and Rugani Juice. 

Rugani was still sleeping on the floor in a Hillbrow apartment in the early 1990s, but over 25 years he and his partner, Vincent Sequeira, became South Africa’s largest carrot producer.

After starting with a small mixed vegetable farm of 20 hectares, their operation now has 3,700 ha in Tarlton, Bokpoort in Limpopo and Christiana in the Free State, and produces 250 tons of carrots a day.

Sequeira always oversaw the mechanical side of the farm, while Rugani focused on labour and economic issues.

Later, they opened a plant in Tarlton where more than 80 tons of carrots can be converted daily into 40,000 litres of juice.

The major turning point for Greenway Farms was when Rugani and Sequeira visited carrot farmers in Australia. After receiving good advice on finances and labour utilisation, they decided to focus solely on carrot production. Greenway Farms also took the lead with the first hydro-cooled carrots in South Africa.

The business is still largely in the hands of the two families. Rugani had six sons and two daughters, and Sequeira had five daughters and a son. One of Sequeira’s daughters, Anita Browne, was named Gauteng’s Young Farmer of the Year in 2019 due to her involvement in the farm.

Vito’s influence on the South African agricultural sector entrenched free market philosophies to maintain principles and practices for farmers which advocated for and strengthened food supply and sustainability in our country.

Vito leaves behind his wife, six sons, two daughters and seven grandchildren. In this difficult time, the family ask that you give them time to grieve and mourn their loss.

Further communication regarding the memorial service will be shared in due course.

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