Although he grew up in Strand, Handré Viljoen was exposed to farming by both sides of his family. He says he has always liked it, so he did not think twice when choosing between accounting and agriculture. “I can’t sit still for too long,” he admits, “so I decided the best option was agriculture.”
In 2006, he completed his BScAgric at Stellenbosch University, majoring in entomology and horticulture. He joined ExperiCo Agri-Research Solutions the following year. When he started working at ExperiCo, he was an all-rounder, researching citrus, table grapes, and pome fruit, but he now focuses exclusively on stone fruit.
“If you asked me if I wanted to be a researcher when I was studying, I would have laughed at you,” says Viljoen. “When I started to look for work, ExperiCo popped up as an option. I began doing research here, and then I actually enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t really choose postharvest — I think it chose me!”
The part Viljoen likes most about research is finding solutions to industry problems. He has a natural curiosity and says that he wants to figure out how to fix issues at work and home. “I’ll find a way to fix it, or I’ll go and learn — check YouTube and see how to do it.”
Viljoen enjoys the outdoors, and his work provides a balance between orchard trials outdoors and office and laboratory work indoors. He also appreciates the challenges and variety of his job. “That’s why I like what I do,” he says. “It’s not repetitive.”