BUSINESS DAY: Silos ready for record maize harvest

As farmers in SA get down to harvesting a record maize crop, operators of grain storage facilities say there is enough space to accommodate the bumper haul.

President of the Grain Handling Organisation Annatjie Loio said there was adequate capacity for the local crop, most of which would be stored in silos. Additional silos were being built while some of the crop had already been booked for exports.

According to the Crop Estimates Committee, the maize crop output was expected to be 101% more than in 2016. The expected commercial maize crop has been set at 15.631-million tonnes.

Earlier in 2017, Brazilian farmers had to resort to storage bags as a quick-fix solution to stockpile their bumper crops of soybeans and maize, while in 2016, US farmers also faced the prospect of running out of storage supplies for maize, soybeans, and wheat.

Afgri Grain Management operations manager Jan De Sousa said Afgri operated silos across SA’s main maize-planting regions. The company frequently received its own crop estimates from farmers within the regions, which helped with effective storage management processes.

“In the event that additional storage is needed, we look at instructions for dispatching the grain,” he said.

Afgri’s silos are located in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and parts of Limpopo. Farmers deliver their crop to the silos shortly after harvest to avoid risks such as fire, theft and contamination.

On arrival at the storage facilities, the crops are graded, weighed and put it into the silos. Storage bins keep between 22,000 tonnes and 160,000 tonnes of the crop, which can be stored for up to seven years. Clients — who may be farmers, traders and cooperatives — have the option of daily storage, short-term or longer-term storage, with equivalent payment variations.

The head of economic and agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber, Wandile Sihlobo, said while there were facilities to accommodate the surplus crop, demand for white maize outside SA’s borders was weak and could lead to prices remaining at low levels.

He said that SA exported about 80% of its white maize to neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, which were also expecting a bumper maize harvest.

“White maize prices are down because we can’t find export markets.”

On Thursday, the spot price of white maize was R1,728 a tonne form R3,704 a tonne in January, while the spot price for yellow maize was R1,865 a tonne from R3,365 a tonne.

Absa agricultural economist Conce Moraba said that in addition to the expected adequate storage capacity, the transportation of grain to export markets by road and rail was also expected to go smoothly, through the Durban and the East London Port Terminals.

Agriculture offers exciting career opportunities

The agricultural sector offers young people exciting career opportunities to leverage new innovative ways of farming to care for the food security of future generations.

The agricultural sector is an exciting and challenging global industry that offers young people far more job opportunities than planting seeds and rendering animals.

“The industry needs young people in that young people are key players in increasing farmer visibility and continue to rapidly leverage on current and developing innovative technology as well as collaborate with traditional farmers to produce and position farming as the future solution towards ensuring food security,” says Prudence Motseo, ‎HR Systems and Admin Manager at AFGRI Operations.

Furthermore, this also applies to careers in our sector, as education in agriculture has evolved and is aligned with developed trends and innovative ways of farming; enabling the development of diverse players, such as small and large scale farmers facing economic challenges locally and globally.

“A career at AFGRI is broad in nature and offers endless range of opportunities in career choices within the agricultural sector,” says Motseo. “Within Agri Services, our subsidiaries, Grain Management, Equipment, Unigro Financial and Insurance Service and Harvest Time Investments, jobs range from farm workers, crop scientists, researchers, financial analysts, agronomists and product developers, including support functions such as Finance, Human Resources, Legal and Marketing to name but a few.”

There are also new developing trends in career opportunities in the sector. Motseo says skills that will be needed in future include that of technical advisors, qualified artisans, strategists, business development managers, innovation specialists, hydrologist, lab technicians and entomology product specialists.

Qualifications needed to further a career in agriculture will vary according to the path that you intend to pursue. For instance, a career in grain management may require a qualification in agricultural crop science, grain grading and management; at Equipment and Unigro job opportunities vary between artisans and Relationship managers as scarce critical skills.

AFGRI also offers opportunities in Africa. We currently operate at Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ghana, Botswana, Congo, Mozambique and Australia. We envisage growth of our business, which may create opportunities in more countries.

Motseo says a career in agriculture will suit individuals with passion and dedication for agriculture, driven by innovation and possess an attitude of selflessness in caring for future generation’s food security.

– end –

The table below shows possible options in a career in agriculture. Qualifications will vary accordingly.

https://careers.afgri.co.za/ contains additional information.

 

Grain Management Equipment
·         Agricultural Crop Science

·         Grain Grading and Management

·         Artisans

·         Apprentices Technicians

Harvest Time Financial Services and Insurance
·         Business Management

·         Training and Development

·         CSI

·         Financial Planning and Management

·         Organisational Health and Wellness

·         Insurance Management

 

Ensuring a sustainable agricultural sector

Farmers face many complex decisions in order to ensure the sustainability of their enterprises and the food security of the nation.

In a panel discussion as part of the Nation in Conversation series at Nampo Harvest Day, Johan Geel, Group CFO of AFGRI, said to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the agricultural sector farmers need to diversify and adapt to advanced technology to improve their crops.

“To succeed in an increasingly complex sector, farmers need sound financial planning as the sector is capital intensive, return on investments are generally low and it takes between 7 to 9 months for most crops to deliver an income,” says Geel. Added to that, modern technologically advanced equipment requires an adequately trained labour.

Consensus amongst the panellists is that the current debt ratio of farmers at 35% is acceptable, even though the debt burden is on a record high at R145 billion. Geel says the expected bumper crop in the current season will help farmers to pay back their debt quickly. “However, careful financial planning is needed given the economic and political uncertainties. The recent sovereign downgrades by ratings agencies will have a negative impact on the farming sector as the downgrades will result in higher interest rates, which in turn means that less capital will be available. A weaker South African currency will also mean a significant increase in the price of imported goods such as equipment, diesel, insecticides and fertiliser.”

Geel says the current political uncertainty is not factored into financing decisions. “Companies like AFGRI need to discount the political noise in favour of expertise and the ability of the farmer and the land to produce a positive return when evaluating financing to farmers. We have to stick to the facts.”

Diversification of products will also ensure the long-term sustainability of a farming enterprise as well as the agricultural sector, says Geel. “Farmers with healthy balance sheets are those who have successfully diversified their operations. Diversification presents its own challenges, but in AFGRI’s experience established businesses that can add land cost effectively can be successful.”

The agricultural sector can play a very important role in job creation, but what is needed is better training as more and more, workers are expected to operate high-tech equipment. This adoption of high-tech equipment assists in diversification and efficiencies.

A sustainable agricultural sector will go a long way to trigger economic growth and in creating employment. “Some agricultural sectors are very labour intensive and the development and progress of the small towns are directly link to the well-being of the agriculture sector,” says Geel.

Innovative technology contributes to increased food production

Mechanisation and technological advances are crucial in the agricultural sector to improve crop yields through better efficiency and accuracy to feed the ever-growing population. Patrick Roux, MD of AFGRI Equipment, discusses the latest advances in equipment and highlights areas where technological innovation is already making a difference in the sector.

Mechanisation and technological advances in agriculture create new opportunities to improve food security by ensuring greater efficiency and accuracy in farming techniques to feed the ever-growing population.

Patrick Roux, Managing Director of AFGRI Equipment, the largest John Deere dealership network in Southern Africa and Western Australia, says implementing innovative technology and artificial intelligence will greatly improve the world’s agricultural production.

“From machinery that can inject fertiliser at precise depths, smart water management systems to precision drones, the use of technology will greatly impact the availability and affordability of food.”

Across the world, agribusinesses are developing new technologies for the agricultural sector and the growth in the market for agricultural machinery is predicted at 7% per annum over the next three years.

Areas where technological innovation is already taking place – and making a difference – are higher crop productivity, decreased use of water, fertiliser and pesticides, which also contribute to lower food prices.

Modern farm machinery allows farmers to control his entire operation through the cloud through telematics that send information about how machines are being used and crop information to smart phones.

Roux predicts that further developments in artificial intelligence farming and precision farming techniques to ensure increased production to meet the demands of the growing population.

“With mounting pressure on food systems and environmental concerns, the agricultural sector will lead the way in implementing technology to ensure food security for a rapidly growing world population, which by 2050 is predicted to reach 9,7 billion.”

“In 2015, research by the Population Reference Bureau included only one African country, Nigeria, in its top ten most populous countries. The Bureau predicts that by 2050, Nigeria, DRC and Ethiopia will feature in the top ten list. This rapid population growth is due to improved life expectancy as economic growth rates increase,” concludes Roux.

TUKS WEBSITE: Tuks are the 2017 Varsity Cup champions!

UP-Tuks held off Maties (Stellenbosch University) to win the 10th Varsity Cup with a final score of 28–21 (half-time 13-15) in an exhilarating final at the Tuks Rugby Stadium on Monday night.

UP-Tuks became only the second university (after Maties) to win the coveted trophy on three occasions and the men from Pretoria did so on a perfect autumn evening in the capital.

The visitors started with a bang as lock Janco Venter crashed over for a seven-point try after a few solid phases of play from his team. Flyhalf Chris Smith scored the extra points to give Maties a 9–0 lead.

Tuks cut into that lead three minutes later when captain and flank Chris Massyn barged over to claim a try of his own. Flyhalf Tinus de Beer then converted to make it a two-point game.

Maties’ sharpshooters Smith and Tiaan Swanepoel (fullback) punished the home team for their persistence, slotting two penalties, while De Beer nailed a penalty of his own to bring the curtain down on a gripping first half.

Maties kept the scoreboard ticking early in the second half with Smith slicing the uprights to extend the Stellenbosch students’ lead to 13–18.

Tuks outside centre Divan Rossouw handed his team the lead when he intercepted a wayward pass to race in untouched and score a phenomenal seven-point try in the 46th minute.

Minutes later, De Beer converted and added a penalty to give the Pretoria students a handy 25–18 lead with just under 30 minutes left to play.

The final lapsed into a period of back-and-forth play between the two teams as they battled for supremacy with the packed stadium frantically cheering for the home side.

Tuks suffered a huge setback when replacement prop Jaco Holtzhausen was sinbinned, which Maties’ Smith duly capitalised on to reduce the gap to 25–21.

De Beer scored his final points of the night in the 67th minute, kicking yet another penalty goal to increase Tuks’ slender lead over the visitors.

The teams proceeded to throw everything at each other with time running out, but De Beer consistently kept Maties pinned in their own half with his field kicks.

Maties had an opportunity to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat but a forward pass brought an end to their movement and handed Tuks the 2017 Varsity Cup trophy.

SCORERS:

UP-Tuks: 28 – Tries: Chris Massyn, Divan Rossouw (7 pt try). Cons: Tinus de Beer (2). Pens: De Beer (4).

FNB Maties: 21 – Tries: Janco Venter (7 pt try). Cons: Chris Smith. Pens: Smith (3), Tiaan Swanepoel

TEAMS

UP-Tuks: 15. Manie Libbok, 14. Dewald Naude, 13. Divan Rossouw, 12. Joshua Stander, 11. Sibahle Maxwane, 10. Tinus de Beer, 9. Andre Warner, 8. Clyde Davids, 7. Chris Massyn (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Aston Fortuin, 4. Brian Leitch, 3. Neethling Fouche, 2. Corniel Els, 1. Andrew Beerwinkel

Replacements: 16. Jan-Henning Campher, 17. Jaco Holtzhausen, 18. Marius Verwey, 19. Eduan Lubbe, 20. Theo Maree, 21. Toko Maebane, 22. Keanan van Wyk, 23. Franco van den Berg

Maties: 15. Tiaan Swanepoel, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Michal Haznar, 12. Chris Smit, 11. Craig Barry (c), 10. Chris Smith, 9. Brendon Nell, 8. Devon Nash, 7. Kobus van Dyk, 6. Mitchell Carstens, 5. Janco Venter, 4. Ian Groenewald, 3. Niel Oelofse, 2. Craig Corbett, 1. Wesley Adonis

Replacements: 16. HJ Luus, 17. Ricky Ngwabara, 18. Wikus Groenewald, 19. Johan Momsen, 20. Stephan Streicher, 21. Remu Malan, 22. Ernst Stapelberg, 23. Duncan Saa

AFGRI Equipment Australia scoops sought after accolade

AFGRI Equipment Australia, a subsidiary of South African-based AFGRI, and the largest distributor of agricultural machinery in South Africa and Western Australia, has been awarded the status of 2017 Platinum Medallion Dealer by John Deere Financial Limited in Australia and New Zealand.

“The Platinum Medallion is awarded to a dealer for achieving excellence through their finance portfolio based on volume financed and strike rate and AFGRI Equipment Australia is one of three dealers who can boast this achievement for 2017,” says Patrick Roux managing director at AFGRI Equipment.

AFGRI Equipment Australia has also achieved Platinum status in 2014 for achieving goals set by John Deere on the penetration rate and large finance volumes during a calendar year. AFGRI Equipment Australia was ranked bronze in 2015 after the criteria for the medallion awards were revised in 2015.

The dealership bounced back in 2016 to achieve a Silver Medallion, and topped it with the Platinum Medallion in 2017.

Coetzee believes the acquisitions of Jolly & Sons in 2015, followed by Greenline AG in 2016 by AFGRI Equipment Australia contributed to its success in 2017. “The acquisitions over the past 18 months have added to the portfolio volume for AFGRI as well as afforded them the scale to continue to provide high quality service to a growing finance portfolio,” he said.

AFGRI Equipment recently announced yet another acquisition in Australia, that of Rattan & Slatter.   “ The acquisition was made to further our well-established mission of being the preferred supplier of premium agricultural equipment, services and solutions,” concluded Roux.

AFGRI Equipment’s latest offerings on show at Arlington Tillage Day

Centurion, 20 April 2017 – AFGRI Equipment is once again proud to be part of the Arlington Tillage Farmers Day taking place on 20 April. For the past couple of years, AFGRI Equipment, through its branch in Bethlehem and Marquard, has supported the Arlington Farmers Union by showcasing the latest high quality agricultural equipment.

This year will be no different and we look forward to giving our valued clients the opportunity to test the latest high quality, technologically advanced equipment we offer.

On show from AFGRI Equipment will be a variety of premium equipment to view and experience. (more information on the equipment to attract clients, it can include prices, especially if they are offering “special show prices”). Clients will be given the opportunity to test drive the equipment/tractors.

In the last three years, interest in the Arlington Tillage Farmers Day has grown and it is now one of the largest agricultural equipment demonstrations in the Free State.

AFGRI Equipment acquires Ratten & Slater in Western Australia

AFGRI Equipment are delighted to announce the acquisition of Ratten & Slater.

 The acquisition took effect on the 4th April 2017 with AFGRI having acquired all three locations at Gnowangerup, Albany and Esperance. Ratten & Slater commenced operations in Esperance in 1964 and have since grown to service a large area in the south east and south west of WA. As AFGRI continues in its growth phase, we acquired Ratten & Slater to further expand our footprint and customer base in WA echoing our vision to be the market leader in our field with a strong and reputable brand. Whilst being John Deere dealers, we also have various other franchises including Manitou, Bourgault, Kuhn, Trufab and Croplands.

AFGRI made this acquisition to further our well-established mission, to be the preferred supplier of premium agricultural equipment, services and solutions. With the constant improvements in technology, additional experts in different fields are required. This further expansion will allow us to better cater to the needs of our customers, and meet their need for premium new and used equipment, competitive parts and reliable servicing.

AFGRI, a private company started over 90 years ago in South Africa, is a leading agricultural services and processing company. In 2004, AFGRI holdings acquired T & H Walton Stores and changed the name of their operations to AFGRI Equipment Pty Ltd in 2013. This current acquisition follows on from our previous acquisitions of Jolly & Sons in 2015 and Greenline in August 2016. The acquisition now means AFGRI will operate out of 14 dealerships across WA including our previous 11 branches of Boyup Brook, Carnamah, Dalwallinu, Geraldton, Perth-Guildford, Lake Grace, Moora, Pingelly, Wagin, Witchcliffe and Wongan Hills. Throughout our operations, our employees are from a mix of different cultures with a strong Australian backbone. From senior management through to our branches, we strongly believe in being engaged in our local community.

AFGRI Operations Director Gollie Coetzee said the management team have implemented the best practices to ensure AFGRI is ready to supply the market with premium products and service excellence at our newly-acquired locations. “This whole acquisition process has been absolutely positive. It was a willing-buyer, willing-seller scenario so there was no push from anybody and the way that the whole transition has gone has been tremendous,” he said. Mr Coetzee said an important aspect was making the transition for our new employees and customers smooth and comfortable. “The main message from this transition is to comfort our new employees and customers and let them know to not be alarmed,” he said.  “We had opportunity to talk to our new staff and our staff had the opportunity to put their concerns forward.  “Our employees are our business and we have a strong employee culture based on our values.” Mr Coetzee said he anticipates a great relationship moving forward. “With our mission and values being very similar to Ratten and Slater, we believe everything will continue to run smoothly and we are looking forward to what the future may bring,” he said.