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Bali and Jasse Sahota – tomato and cucumber growers
Small business feeling the pinch of higher running costs
Bali and Jasse Sahota are the owners of UV Sahota Ltd, a successful tomato and cucumber growing operation in Karaka, South Auckland. Their growing journey began in 1994 when Bali worked in Kumeu, West Auckland for a tomato grower. They moved to South Auckland in 1996 to work for KPH. Jasse became a team leader in one of the greenhouses and Bali drove a forklift.
In 2000 an opportunity came up to lease their first greenhouse in Drury, it had always been their aim to run their own business. It just so happens they owned a green grocers shop for a number of years, so it made sense to grow their own produce. Over the following ten years they leased up to four greenhouses, growing tomatoes, and cucumbers, they also grew capsicums at times.
After years of arduous work, they were able to purchase a property where their growing operation is to this day. They have five growing areas, totalling a little under 4000m2. Two of the greenhouses double up for cropping large loose tomatoes and the other areas telegraph cucumbers. They have also been able to propagate their own plants in the summer but use a nursery, with better heating, in the winter.
Since they took ownership of the property, they have re-skinned the greenhouses. They have installed air heating systems, which run on a mix of recycled (waste) oil and diesel. On a chilly night they can hold 12 degrees, which is a vast improvement from years gone by before they owned the property.
Issues that have emerged in the past two ‘Covid’ years:
Bali and Jasse supply wholesalers with their produce, as well as selling at local weekend markets. Covid has been a tough time with abnormal fluctuating seasonal prices. Bali said this has made it a challenge to plan what crop to grow, whether they should have a higher concentration of either tomatoes or cucumbers? Bali would like more certainty from the markets as he said every crop, he grows is currently a calculated gamble.
The biggest issue for the Sahota’s in the last two years has been the increase in consumable prices. Overall Bali said that increases in energy and consumables (fertiliser, chemicals, substrates) has far exceeded 10% this year, which is much higher than the rate of inflation. Bali and Jesse would like to employ a staff member, but it is not economically viable at present, so they continue to work fulltime in their business and are happy to do so. However, the increasing cost of growing is a concern, making it difficult to keep improving their operation.
Bali and Jasse love growing and hope to continue long into the future. Together, with hard work and determination they have become a successful small business. Like all businesses they are having to adapt with the increases in costs to their day-to-day operations.
Left – The new locally sourced cucumber wrapping machine.
Below – Recently planted winter crop of telegrpah cucumbers
Article written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic
All Article’s checked and edited by Marie Vogrincic
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Cover Photo Bali (right) and Jasse (left) Sahota.