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.

BUSINESS MEDIA MAGS: Farming For The Future

Big business is putting big effort into securing the world’s food supply – “sustainability” is the new “eco-friendly”, reports Trevor Crighton.

The farming industry requires a system that produces higher volumes of a better-quality product without compromising on price, and which quantifiably improves the environment in which is it is produced… Does this sound like a dream business scenario? Well, it’s one that two South African corporate giants are well on their way to implementing.

“Sustainability” is a 21st-century business buzzword – easy to promise, but challenging to deliver on. For many corporates, it’s a catch-all term for recycling and cutting down on energy consumption, but there are few industries in which it delivers such tangible, long-lasting effects as farming and food supply. With the earth’s population currently at seven billion – and set to top nine billion by 2050 – food security is a truly global issue, and both corporates and consumers are paying more attention to the provenance and supply of their daily bread.

The decline in the nutritional value and quality of food has caught popular attention as consumers around the world focus more on their own environmental footprint and what they put into their bodies. This, in turn, is forcing companies to take a more environmentally savvy approach to producing food.

Taking sustainability seriously

South African retailer Woolworths, for example, launched its Good Business Journey programme in 2007, with an eye on consolidating all of the company’s environmental and social responsibility work under a single umbrella. More than a nod to sustainability as a box to tick on the corporate citizenship checklist, the Farming for the Future element of the journey aims to help farmers to grow quality produce while protecting the environment, preserving natural resources and reducing dependence on synthetic fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides, without adding to the price the consumer pays.

“Our suppliers have been incredibly supportive of our Farming for the Future programme, as they have seen the benefits: improvements in soil health, reductions in water usage and reductions in inputs such as chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers, with associated cost savings,” says Woolworths’ head of sustainability, Justin Smith. “They have also seen biodiversity improvements on their farms, which they really are passionate about, as stewards of the land.”

Sustainability is about rethinking processes, from what to produce and how to produce it, through the packaging, delivery and sales processes. For example, Woolworths’ participation in the Water Stewardship Programme with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) seeks to protect the most important natural resource required for farming: water. Working directly with its producers – such as Bergsig Wines – sees the company participating in the safeguarding of ecosystems, with a view to long-term production.

Furthermore, the retailer’s Enterprise Development Programme is focused on bringing emerging suppliers into the supply chain, with 50 partners currently on the journey.

Organic production plays a role in the Good Business Journey, but it’s just one element, according to Smith. “The demand for organic products is fairly stable in South Africa, but we are certainly seeing consumers placing more importance on understanding where their food has come from, and how it was produced.”

“Organic farming works really well for certain crops in certain climatic conditions, but if it is applied in the wrong climatic areas, it can require more land and water resources to produce the same yield as conventional farming. This is why we developed the Farming for the Future programme, to take the best parts of organic and conventional approaches into a structured programme that does not add any cost to the consumer.”

A bonus delivered by the Good Business Journey has been a saving of R280 million for the company over the last five years, thanks to reductions in the use of energy, water, fuel and packaging. The plan for the next five years has seen the company establish new targets across eight key focus areas: ethical trade, energy, water, waste, sustainable farming, transformation, social development, and health and wellness.

A streamlined approach

While agricultural services and processing company Afgri is not directly involved in farming, the group has also become increasingly aware of the need for a focus on sustainability. Looking inwards, Afgri’s focus has been on the environmental streamlining of three core operations: factories, silos and mechanisation stores.

Energy supply has become increasingly crucial in South Africa, and with Afgri relying on a mix of coal for direct consumption and purchased electricity for production, responsibility demanded the introduction of sustainable solutions. The company’s industrial foods businesses therefore introduced a number of programmes aimed at reducing electricity consumption and bringing down costs. These interventions range from operating outside peak hours to introducing solar heating for non-essential hot water, applying heat transfer principles to heat non-essential water, the automation of boilers and the introduction of variable-speed motors.

A focus on the efficient use of waste products from Afgri’s production processes has delivered innovative projects, such as one that sees solid waste being removed from effluent water at their Delmas processing plant before being released to an irrigation dam, which is used by a local farmer. Its milling operation was already a relatively efficient system, since most waste from production already has a secondary use. Chop and maize flour produced in the maize production process have commercial applications, as does bran, which is a byproduct of the wheat production process.

External processes also play a role in refining Afgri’s own standards. For example, its Nedan crushing and oil extraction business supplies oil to a large fast-food franchise, which applies its own strict standards in terms of quality and provenance. Nedan’s role in supplying products to FMCG conglomerates requires compliance with international food safety audit standards, which means it can export its products.

Afgri’s group sustainability manager, Marion Shikwinya, says the company is delighted to see “green thinking” becoming a pivotal part of the South African agricultural mindset. “Currently, the contribution of agriculture to climate change is significant. Agriculture is an emitter of greenhouse gases associated with land-use change, fertiliser use and enteric fermentation among livestock.”

Globally, agriculture accounts for around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, says Shikwinya, who concludes: “Agriculture will have to reduce these emissions substantially and contribute to climate change mitigation if it is to contribute to a green economy.”

Did you know?

One in three of the world’s hungry live in Africa, which remains the continent that does not grow enough food to feed its citizens. Yes, Africa has around 60% of the world’s uncultivated land.

Therefore, as a continent, Africa is ideally placed to capitalise on the availability of rich agricultural land and the associated opportunities for investment. This means Africa could play a pivotal role in meeting the planet’s agricultural needs in the future.

Greener communities

Beer producer SAB has focused its sustainability drive on assisting local farmers in producing the raw materials the company uses in its production processes – building local communities and cutting costs along the way.

One of the SAB Go-Farming Sustainable Agriculture Initiative’s most promising success stories is the Jacobsdal Pilot Project. Having spotted the barley-farming potential in the small Free State town, SAB assisted two local farmers in setting up farms. The brewer offered advice from inception – starting with soil analysis and upgrades, through to fertiliser recommendations and water monitoring. Overseen by Kimberley-based SAB agriculturalist Frikkie Lubbe, the pilot project has encouraged other farmers in the area to explore barley as a rotation crop option, bringing previously disadvantaged farmers into the SAB supply chain and helping the company to secure a sustainable, local source of one of its key raw ingredients.

Afgri also has two successful community-based projects: the Roundabout PlayPumps in Mpumalanga (a playground merry-go-round system that uses the energy of children at play to operate a water pump) and a borehole initiative in the Zama Zama informal settlement outside Pretoria. Afgri’s Marion Shikwinya says Roundabout PlayPumps were set up in five underresourced primary schools in Mpumalanga to supply learners and communities with access to clean and disease-free water. “Our mission in Zama Zama was the same – the community had no access to clean water until we provided a borehole,” she says.

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.

Uplifting farmers will reduce poverty in Africa

Centurion, 4 April 2017. – The agricultural sector in Africa has the potential to lift the continent and its people out of poverty.

Tinus Prinsloo, CEO of Agri Services at AFGRI, says Africa can take its rightful place as a major food producer if farmers in Africa can be uplifted from subsistence farmers to commercial farmers.

“It will happen, but it will take time as farmers in Africa and investors in the sector face a series of challenges,” Prinsloo said at the 2017 congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists that kicked off in Pretoria yesterday. AFGRI is a diamond sponsor of the weeklong event themed Africa, it’s time!

In a panel discussion about how cooperation between regions, governments and sectors can contribute to the agricultural sector in Africa, Prinsloo said access to funding is a major challenge for farmers in Africa.

“The volatile currency markets and foreign exchange regulations make it difficult for farmers to raise capital to expand their operations.” Interest rates across the continent are also generally very high, which further discourage investments.

He said South African farmers are willing to invest in the agricultural sector in Africa, but their efforts are hampered as they are expected to use their South African assets as collateral to get financing. “If this can change, much more capital will be available for investment in the sector,” Prinsloo said.

A major benefit of improved access to funding and significant investments will help small scale farmers to mechanise, which will greatly improve their production.

“The agricultural sector on the continent can expand significantly if finance cost can be reduced in order to attract investments and to get South African farmers to help and train small scale farmers in Africa,” Prinsloo concluded.

BUSINESS DAY: Mandatory sale of Bank of Athens adds another string to AFGRI’s bow

Bank of Athens’ parent, the National Bank of Greece, was compelled to sell its 99.81% interest in the bank as part of an agreement with the European Stability Mechanism

The South African Bank of Athens’ parent company was forced to offload its South African subsidiary, which had R1.5bn in deposits and R2.3bn in assets at the end of 2016, in terms of European Central Bank (ECB) conditions.

Afgri has snapped up the Greek bank’s interest, but declines to say at what price.

The agricultural services company is unwilling to divulge its plans for Bank of Athens, which Reserve Bank records show obtained the bulk of its deposits from the private non-financial corporate sector and households, while its two largest asset groups comprise residential mortgages and commercial and other mortgage advances.

This differs from Afgri’s R12bn debtors’ book, built up through Unigro Farmer Lending, Unigro Insurance Brokers and GroCapital Financial Services on behalf of the Land Bank. The Land Bank provides financial services to agribusiness.

Afgri CEO Chris Venter could not comment on how Bank of Athens’ clients complemented Afgri’s offering before the deal won regulatory approval.

“We … require all approvals. Afgri views this as a change in the holding structure, which will provide benefits to our clients.”

Afgri said on Tuesday that it had applied for regulatory approvals from the Reserve Bank, the minister of finance and the competition authorities.

Bank of Athens’ parent, the National Bank of Greece, was compelled to sell its 99.81% interest in the bank as part of an agreement with the European Stability Mechanism, which injected €2.71bn in capital in December 2015 after the ECB found a €4.6bn capital shortfall at the bank.

The ECB required National Bank of Greece to “dispose of noncore assets outside Greece” as a condition of the bail-out.

The rest of the shortfall was covered through “private means” and bolstered by the bank’s positive third-quarter results for 2015.

The National Bank of Greece is regarded as one of that country’s four systemically important financial institutions.

It expects the deal with Afgri to close within the second half of 2017 and enhance its liquidity by about €55m.

Venter said Afgri was impressed with the strides Bank of Athens had made in specialised offerings, especially in “the application of technology and innovative solutions”.

“Afgri, through its 94-year history, prides itself on knowing agriculture and agricultural cycles … [and is able] to use this knowledge in affording clients access to finance that will assist them through their production cycle,” said Venter.

“This acquisition provides an additional retail and alliance banking platform to current and prospective Afgri customers where deposit-taking and lending is possible.”

BUSINESS REPORT: AFGRI Holdings buys SA Bank of Athens

Agricultural services and food processing group Afgri Holdings announced on Tuesday that it had bought National Bank of Greece Group’s (NBG’s) 99.81 percent stake in the South African Bank of Athens (Saba) for an undisclosed amount.

NGB, the second largest Greek bank by total assets, said in a statement that the deal was part of the bank’s restructuring plan agreed with banking regulators to boost its capital position.

It said the deal, expected to close in the second semester of this year, was subject to various conditions including regulatory approvals from the South African Reserve Bank, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, the Competition Commission and the Competition Tribunal.

Afgri said it was liaising with the Reserve Bank and preparing the prescribed applications for the regulatory approvals.

“Afgri values the support of clients, depositors and banking partners of the Saba and commits to continue to provide the service excellence they are accustomed to,” said Afgri chief executive Chris Venter.

Afgri said its indirect controlling shareholder, Fairfax Africa Holdings Corporation, supported the transaction.

Saba, established in 1947, provides banking services to medium-sized local businesses. It offers comprehensive traditional business banking such as lending, transaction banking, treasury and foreign exchange. Afgri, on the other hand, is an agricultural, financial services and food processing company operating in South Africa and 14 other countries in Africa.

Afgri said Saba was also focused on the development of niche transactional banking.

“We’re impressed with the strides Saba has made in specialised banking, especially as these pertain to the application of technology and innovative solutions,” said Venter.

He said the acquisition of Saba provided an additional retail and alliance banking platform to current and prospective Afgri customers where deposit taking and lending was possible “and in this way enables Afgri to continue with its focus of innovation and an enabler to food security”.

The deal follows NBG’s sale late last year of its Bulgarian subsidiary, United Bulgarian Bank, to Belgian bank KBC Group for e610 million. At the time, NBG said the transaction would strengthen its capital and liquidity position, allowing for the redeployment of resources to support the Greek bank.

NBG chairman Louka Katseli said in the 2015 annual report that the group was a pillar of stability and certainty for the Greek economy.

“The main intention of the NBG Group is to maintain its leadership profile and play an active role in supporting investments that can foster a resurgence in economic activity,” said Katseli.

BUSINESS DAY: AFGRI pursues Bank of Athens’ SA stake

Afgri CEO Chris Venter says the 94-year-old business was constantly evolving and looking at ways to better service its customers

Afgri is seeking to acquire the South African portion of Bank of Athens. The deal would give Afgri, which has long been a financier of farmers in partnership with the Land Bank, a banking licence.

Afgri CEO Chris Venter said the 94-year-old business was constantly evolving and looking at ways to better service its customers. The group has a partnership with the Land Bank called Unigro, which offers loans and crop insurance to farmers. Afgri also has a subsidiary called GroCapital Financial Services, whose services include trading futures contracts for farmers.

“Since the early 2000s we have aggressively expanded our financial services offering. We manage a R12bn debtors’ book through Unigro and GroCapital. The move reiterates the core focus of the group which is to ensure food security across the continent. We will be better placed to help our customer base grow their business. The management team at the bank will be staying,” said Venter. Afgri will gain the right to accept deposits, something its existing relationship with the Land Bank does not provide.

Venter would not disclose the value of the deal. “That’s one of the benefits of being unlisted.”

Afgri delisted from the JSE in April 2014. Its shareholders include Fairfax, the Public Investment Corporation, empowerment consortium Bafepi Agri and management.

Venter said the deal had the backing of the group’s shareholders. “We still need the necessary approvals from the South African Reserve Bank and all relevant authorities. I would hope the deal would be done later this year, but it is difficult to provide a timeline. This is a journey about which we are excited. We hope we can conclude the deal as soon as possible.”

The South African Bank of Athens provides business banking services to medium-sized local businesses, as well as niche transactional banking to the broader market.

BUSINESS DAY: AFGRI seeks Reserve Bank’s permission to buy Bank of Athens SA

Afgri says the deal is not expected to change the group’s partnership with the Land Bank, called Unigro, which offers loans and crop insurance to farmers

Former farmers co-op Afgri is seeking to acquire the South African portion of Bank of Athens for an undisclosed amount.

The deal would give Afgri, which has long been a financier of farmers in partnership with the Land Bank, a banking licence.

Afgri is seeking permission from the South African Reserve Bank to acquire all but 0.09% of Bank of Athens SA from its holding company National Bank of Greece Group.

Vanessa Rech, of investor relations company Keyter Rech, said the deal was not expected to change the group’s partnership with the Land Bank, called Unigro, which offers loans and crop insurance to farmers. Afgri also has a subsidiary called GroCapital Financial Services, whose services include trading futures contracts for farmers.

“All we envisage at this stage for Bank of Athens is a change of holding company. It won’t make a difference to its customers or ours,” Rech said.

Something Afgri will gain from the deal is the right to accept deposits, something its existing relationship with the Land Bank does not provide.

Historically known as OTK — the Afrikaans acronym for Eastern Transvaal Co-operative — Afgri was listed on the JSE until 2013 when it bought out minority investors in a deal financed by Canadian private equity firm Fairfax, the Public Investment Corporation, an empowerment partner and management.

Afgri’s acquisition of Bank of Athens is supported by Fairfax, it was noted in Tuesday’s statement.

AFGRI acquires stake in bank and broadens financial offering

AFGRI Holdings Proprietary Limited (“AFGRI”), the leading agricultural services and food processing company is pleased to announce the potential acquisition of the National Bank of Greece Group’s stake in the South African Bank of Athens Limited (“SABA”), corresponding to 99.81% of the issued share capital (the ‘’Transaction”) of SABA .

The Transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including, regulatory approvals from the South African Reserve Bank (“SARB”), the South African Minister of Finance as well as the South-African Competition Authorities. AFGRI is liaising with SARB in this regard and is in the process of preparing the prescribed applications for the regulatory approvals under the guidance of appointed advisors.

“AFGRI values the support of clients, depositors and banking partners of the SABA and commits to continue to provide the service excellence they are accustomed to,” said AFGRI CEO, Chris Venter. He went on to say that acquisition would be a further enabler to both AFGRI and SABA customers.

Fairfax Africa Holdings Corporation, the indirect controlling shareholder of AFGRI, has provided its support for the proposed transaction.

SABA was established and has been operational in South Africa since 1947. It offers comprehensive traditional business banking such as lending, transaction banking, treasury and foreign exchange. It is further known for its focus on the development of market leading niche transactional banking offerings in partnership with businesses.

“We are impressed with the strides SABA has made in specialised banking offerings especially as these pertain to the application of technology and innovative solutions,” indicated Venter.

Venter concluded by indicating that the acquisition provides an additional retail and alliance banking platform to current and prospective AFGRI customers where deposit taking and lending is possible and in this way enables AFGRI to continue with its focus of innovation and an enabler to food security.

BUS BYWAY: Large South African Presence at Agritech Expo in April Indicates Strong Interest in Zambia’s Agri Sector

Chisamba, Zambia, March 05, 2017 – “Zambia is an exciting market to explore, not just for South African suppliers to the agriculture sector, but also for South African farmers,” says Liam Beckett, commercial director for the upcoming Agritech Expo Zambia. The award-winning event is owned by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) and returns to Chisamba for the fourth time this year from 27-29 April.

He adds, “In certain sectors the South African market has become saturated and many South African companies are looking to branch out across the border, in order to continue their business growth in Africa. In Zambia, there are approximately 400 registered commercial farming professionals, which represents a very lucrative potential market. The Zambian farming sector is also far more advanced than other neighbouring countries and farming methods are also similar to South Africa. Therefore, South African brands and products, such as implements and agro chemicals, are all applicable in Zambia.”

More international pavilions
Last year Agritech Expo Zambia drew a record-breaking attendance of 17 605 visitors. This year even more small-scale, emerging and commercial farmers are expected to descend on the GART research farm in the heart of Zambia’s agri-hub Chisamba, where the latest farming products and services will be showcased. The three-day expo will furthermore feature an even greater international presence with international pavilions from Germany, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK and France already confirmed.

Says Liam Beckett, “Just judging from the big increase in international pavilions at Agritech Expo this year, the global interest in Zambia as an agri market is obvious. Already there is major international investment in the country at present as well as projects being planned and if a South African company wants to establish a footprint in Zambia, they need to make sure they grab this business development opportunity now before they miss out.”

The South African companies that have so far booked to exhibit or sponsor at Agritech Expo Zambia include AGRICO, Gallagher Power Fence SA Pty Ltd, Hydraform, Kempston Agri – Claas, Lindsay Africa, Neptun Boot, Organico, Senter 360, Teejet and ROFF. Many other suppliers have headquarters in South Africa, but they are exhibiting as the Zambian branch.

Liam adds, “For South African farmers, Zambia is of interest as there are many new technologies, agro chemicals and commercial farming methods that are available in Zambia that they can learn from. They can also explore renting land on a 99-year lease to expand on their existing South African operations.”

Agritech Expo Zambia will also offer free workshops again, as well as live machinery and product demonstrations and crop trials. New for this year will be specialised agri-sector industry zones and mowing and baling demonstrations.

Multi-award winning Agritech Expo
Agritech Expo Zambia recently won two coveted awards at the ROAR Organiser and Exhibitor Awards in Johannesburg which honour excellence in the exhibition and events industry on the continent. The awards were organised jointly by the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO) and the Exhibition & Event Association of Southern Africa (EXSA). Agritech Expo won for Best Trade & Consumer Exhibition +12000 sqm and for Distinction in Social Responsibility.

The expo also has an outreach programme at the local Golden Valley Basic School, where, with the assistance of numerous event sponsors, it is assisting the school with much needed infrastructure upgrades, equipment supplies and management of the school’s farm.

As in previous years, Agritech Expo enjoys extensive support from the agri industry with well-known suppliers AFGRI and John Deere returning as platinum sponsors again. Confirmed gold sponsors are Action Auto, Agricon, BHBW, Case Construction, Case Agriculture, Gourock and SARO.

Agritech Expo Zambia is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. The event is owned by the Zambia National Farmers Union. Other well-known events by Spintelligent include Agritech Expo Tanzania and Agribusiness Congress East Africa.

Agritech Expo Zambia 2017:
Dates: 27-29 April 2017
Location: Gart Research Centre, Chisamba, Zambia

Contact Information:
Agritech Expo Zambia
Annemarie Roodbol
Contact via Email