Monthly archives: March, 2015

Agriculture, forestry and fisheries strategic framework and agricultural policy action plan approved (South Africa)

The cabinet of the South African government has approved the five-year agriculture, forestry and fisheries strategic framework and agricultural policy action plan. Says Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe: “The framework sets out the key challenges faced by the three sectors and proposes interventions in four areas namely equity and transformation; equitable growth and competitiveness, environmental sustainability and governance.” He furthermore added that the action plan will be updated on an annual basis. “Land distribution is one of government’s programmes that has promoted equity but so far without accomplishing a great deal by way of transformation. Whereas the reconstruction and development programme declared that the main purpose of land distribution was to alter the structure of South African agriculture, [the policy] also seeks to support the sectors to grow the economy and create jobs,” Radebe said. –

Kenya, Uganda call cease-fire on sugar imports (Kenya)

The Kenya government has allowed Uganda sugar manufacturers to export sugar to Kenya ending a three year stand-off between the two governments which has marred trade relationships. According to Uganda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem, negotiations took place through the Northern Corridor Integration arrangement and this led to Kenya accepting to import 97,000 tonnes of sugar from Uganda. Previously, Uganda was only permitted to export 30 299 tonnes in November 2012.
Said Oryem: “Stories of Kenya blocking entry of Uganda sugar on her territory are now of the past. We have been allowed to increase our export to 97,000 tonnes.” Uganda’s push for access was also pegged on a need for balance of trade, with Uganda saying Kenya was introducing non-tariff barriers to trade. Kenya has a number of retail supermarkets in Uganda’s economy such as Uchumi, Turskys and Nakumatt all selling mostly imported products from Kenya. Uganda has an installed capacity of 19,800 tonnes crushed per day (TCD). The surge in production is due to opening up of new mills and expansion of existing ones. Uganda’s annual sugar consumption stands at 320,000 tonnes, against the over 465,000 tonnes produced. New mills in Jinja, Kamuli, Kafu, Kiryandongo, Luwero and Aliak have all started production. Sugar production is projected to reach 623,700 tonnes this year. – East African business week

Foreign partnership in cotton production boost industry (Malawi)

The Malawian and Brazilian governments have partnered under the cotton development agreement,to boost cotton production in the small south-eastern African country. The partnership will see modern technologies and cotton breeds developed under Brazilian Research Corporation (Embrapa). Under this partnership, Malawi cotton exports is expected to drive up production thereby raising export revenues significantly. “The project will strengthen local researchers and extension workers for better production of technologies and cotton seed,” said Malawi Minister of Agriculture, Allan Chiyembekeza. The main economic products of Malawi are cotton, tobacco, tea, groundnuts, sugar and coffee. These have been among the country’s main cash crops for the last century. Malawi’s neighbour, Mozambique, is also expected to benefit from this project. Brazilian Ambassador to Malawi, Gustavo Martins Noguera, said the project is a replication of one that was implemented by Brazil in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali which was known as Cotton-4. – George Mpofu;

Zambia sugar re-invests in sugar operations (Zambia)

Zambia Sugar, a majority-held subsidiary of the JSE-listed Illovo Sugar Group, had invested $82 million (R1013 126 400.00) at its Nakambala, Mazambuka, sugar operations. The company furthermore said this will give further stimulus to the development of Zambian smallholder cane farmers and provide employment opportunities for local people during the construction phase scheduled for completion in 2016. The project scope includes the construction of a modern, high-specification refinery to more than double current annual refined sugar production capacity to around 100,000 tons and increase annual sugar production capacity from 420,000 to 450,000 tons through a range of smaller factory improvements. This project will consolidate Zambia Sugar’s position as Africa’s single-biggest cane sugar producer and underlines the broader Illovo group strategy of focusing on growth within its domestic and regional markets and downstream opportunities to diversify its product mix. The increased cane supply for the improved Nakambala factory will come primarily from area expansions of which the smallholder development at Manyonyo, involving some 145 individual growers, is a major part. Rebecca Katowa, MD of Zambia Sugar, said the company’s plan is to pay more attention on diversification through value addition to its core sugar products as key to achieving sustainable growth. “This project, together with our previous significant expansion of the agricultural and factory operations serves as growing evidence of this strategy and of our support of government initiatives to promote rural development,” Katowa said. “We are especially pleased that this investment touches on the continuing development of our successful small-holder sector whose increasing cane supplies to the factory are fully supported in the project plan and on further job opportunities for local Zambian people,” she added.—

Changing Liberia one machine at a time

Noticing a trend in Liberia to treat the palm kernels as waste after palm oil extraction instead of producing crude palm oil, palm kernel oil and palm kernel, Mahmud Johnson (22) got the idea to set up a palm kernel oil processing mill in his hometown of Monrovia. “Most smallholders cannot afford to make the substantial capital investments required to set up a palm kernel oil processing mill. I was fortunate to raise US$12,000 (R138,379.80) of capital from angel investors and family and put in my own $10,000 (R115,316.50) that I earned from working as an economic analyst at a local consulting company,” explains Johnson.
Following his completion of economics scholarship at Dartmouth College in the S,Johnson set up J-Palm Liberia, a palm kernel oil processing mill which operates on 500 acres of land producing high quality laundry soaps from crude palm oil, palm kernel oil and palm kernel cake.
Johnson elaborates, “J-Palm employs a vertically integrated, no-waste manufacturing system that allows us to keep our cost structure low and our prices competitive. While also empowering smallholder farmers we are able to market our products at very affordable prices without compromising on quality. We produce our own palm oil and palm kernel oil, which are the major ingredients in our laundry soap. We also earn additional revenue from processing and selling the by-products of palm oil and palm kernel oil production which include palm kernel cake (used as animal feed) and palm kernel shells. Our basic model is to work with medium-scale palm plantation owners to refurbish old and abandoned farms through a farm-leasing program. As part of this agreement we underbrush the farms and provide processing equipment Noticing a trend in Liberia to treat the palm kernels as waste after palm oil extraction instead of producing crude palm oil, palm kernel oil and palm kernel, Mahmud Johnson (22) got the idea to set up a palm kernel oil processing mill in his hometown of Monrovia. “Most smallholders cannot afford to make the substantial capital investments required to set up a palm kernel oil processing mill. I was fortunate to raise US$12,000 (R138,379.80) of capital from angel investors and family and put in my own $10,000 (R115,316.50)that I earned from working as an economic analyst at a local consulting company,” explains Johnson.

Products and process
J-Palm has provided an interim solution to smallholder farmers who often produce a lot of palm oil but have to forgo about 35-40% of oil palm fruit due to lack of time, labour, liquidity and appropriate harvesting and value-adding technologies by providing them with simple oil screw press machines in return for a fraction of the oils produced and also provide smallholders the option to sell their oils to them at prevailing market prices,thus eliminating the farm-to-market transportation costs they face. “Given that almost half of Liberia’s palm fruit go to waste every year due to a dearth of appropriate processing technologies,our model provides a win-win solution for J-Palm and the smallholder farmers with whom we work. Our 5-year goal is to make these screw press machines available to smallholder oil palm producers throughout Liberia,” he says.
Palm kernel oil: Crude palm oil is produced from the outer layer of the palm fruit. After producing palm oil, most smallholder producers regard the palm seeds (kernels) as waste. Palm kernels produce another form of oil – palm kernel oil – that is used in cosmetics and food products. However, most smallholders cannot afford the substantial capital investments to crack and separate the kernels from the hard shells, and extract the oils. J-Palm purchases the kernels from smallholder producers, and processes them into palm kernel oil.
Palm kernel cake: The palm kernel cake is the residual from the palm kernel oil production process. It is used primarily as medium-grade protein feed for cattle and pigs, usually mixed with other types of feed to create a richer feed that enhances animal growth. J- Palm supplies palm kernel cake to pig farmers and animal feed companies in and around Liberia for additional income.
Palm Kernel Shells: The last residue from this manufacturing process is the palm kernel shell. As part of the company commitment to implementing a no-waste manufacturing process, the company has a research division, J-Lab where a number of new uses for palm kernel shells and other palm-production residual are being assessed. Johnson confirms to working with environmental studies student researchers from the U.S. to conduct background research on the production, marketing and distribution of biomass charcoal at J-Lab, “We are also working with a team of student researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder, to use oil palm biomass (palm kernel shells and palm leaves) to create a brand of energy-efficient, longer-burning charcoal,” concludes Johnson.
J Palm Liberia: (+231) 880 06 1978 / +1 720 822 4694;;

Spraying Systems Co. launches new Website

Monitor Engineering sole agents in Southern Africa for Spraying Systems Co. for over 50 years announces the launch of their redesigned website, The updated site features a wide range of spray technology including spray nozzles, automated spray systems, spray injectors, manifolds and testing/modelling services.
New and improved navigation menus and advanced search features make it easy for visitors to find information of interest based on their market, application or product use. There are also links to six of our corporate websites , as well as options to subscribe to our spray news newsletter.
Other additions to the site include an extensive video library of product demonstrations and simulations, an expanded literature section complete with a number of interactive catalogs and new results-based case studies documenting process improvements and cost savings that customers have achieved using the company’s products.
Visitors will also find timesaving tools that assist with flow rate, spray coverage and pressure drop calculations. The global leader in spray technology, Spraying Systems Co. has the broadest product line in the industry, with several manufacturing facilities and sales offices in more than 90 countries. Spray nozzles, turnkey spray systems, air systems, custom fabrication and research and testing services comprise the 77-year-old company’s offering.
More information is available at or by contacting us directly at 011 618 3860 or by email

Schneider Electric champions technology

Energy management solutions and efficiency technologies are a means to end the energy crises experienced worldwide, highlighted Jean-Pascal Tricoire, chairman and CEO of Schneider Electric, during his visit and tour of the new Midrand Schneider Electric Campus in Gauteng, South Africa.
“The convergence of IT and energy technologies, the internet of things applied to energy, allows increasing control and anticipation in the use of energy and resources. Schneider Electric’s technology and expertise is therefore focused on safety, reliability, efficiency and the grid, encompassing both industrial and green automation innovation,” he added.
Representatives from the French Development Agency, Angolan Trade Commission, the French Embassies in
Botswana and South Africa were invited to join Tricoire and Mohamed Saad, senior vice president for Africa and the Caribbean, on a 360-degree Schneider Electric experience at its new 12,000 square metre site. The site houses the company’s manufacturing operation, and is also the new home of its mining team, which services the whole of Africa, its Sustainability Development business unit and low voltage electrical distribution division, as well as the Schneider Electric Academy and the company’s data centre consolidation initiatives. Employees from the Capital Hill, Bartlett and Germiston sites, as well as certain personnel from its nearby headquarters, have relocated to this site.
According to Schneider Electric, the new building shows a major commitment to the organisation’s longterm
investment in southern Africa and provides it with more local capabilities, in particular, when it comes to fully servicing its customers by being closer to their needs. The colocation of all employees on the site is envisioned to assist in greater collaboration.
The Midrand site also forms part of the company’s global “Cool Sites” programme, which focuses on designing workplaces that are attractive, inspiring and energising for employees, enabling better employee engagement, productivity and satisfaction levels.
“It is an inviting space for our valuable customers. It perfectly mirrors our brand promise as a global specialist in energy management, with its state-of-the-art elements reflecting our central message of efficiency and energy saving,” added Eric Leger, country president for southern Africa at Schneider Electric.
“Schneider Electric believes in the long-term,” emphasised Tricoire, saying that the decisions the company makes today, be it business or technology development, are for the future. “Africa is an economy of resources. The continent offers a growing population, and numerous young people wanting to learn and build competencies. We are committed to Africa.”
He added that “if your technology is the best, you must be everywhere in the world”, and demonstrating this, delegates were given an overview of Schneider Electric’s BipBop programme (Business, Innovation, and People at the Base of the Pyramid), which develops collective solutions for comprehensive rural electrification, domestic solutions for energy-related needs, and the business models that make these solutions sustainable. This means that it offers reliable, affordable, and clean solutions; training; and business innovation support to help close energy gaps worldwide. Within this programme, Schneider Electric has created access to energy for 43,837 people worldwide.
“It has been an honour to host Jean-Pascal, who turned a French company into a global operation, managing more than 100 businesses worldwide and leading 185,000 people, as well as Mohamed, who most recently accepted the Africa Best Employer Brand Award for 2014/ 2015, in South Africa,” concluded Leger.
Schneider Electric Ntombi Mhangwani: tel +27 11 254 6400;

Incubators making a difference in Mali

The challenges faced by small agro-based businesses and entrepreneurs in developing new, innovative, value-added products has proved overwhelming for many due to factors as the lack of business expertise, access to affordable finance, technical know-how and the inability of start-up SME’s to break into new markets. This was the main inspiration for the development of The West African Agri-business Resource Incubator (WAARI) in Selingue, Mali.WAARI as it is better known, has opened its doors to graduates and potential entrepreneurs in the agriculture and agro-forestry sectors to start training and using the Incubator’s services and facilities to develop new business ideas while also facilitating workshops on gender awareness and seed varieties and production in West Africa.
This first ever full-fledged agribusiness incubator is the brain child of Dr. Ibrahim Togola who was then joined by a consortium comprising of Agro-farming Industrie Développement SA (AID-SA), which is co-ordinating the project and providing facilities for the project at Selingue, the Institut Polytechnique Rural de Formation et de Recherche Appliquée (IPR/IFRA), the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER),International Centre for Innovation and Sustainability (ICIS), the Union of Farmer Co-operatives of Bougouni-Yanfolila and an independent expert. WAARI is one of the six agribusiness incubators being established throughout the continent. ICIS has been involved in developing the design and branding of WAARI and in future will contribute expertise for training programmes in sustainability, design, packaging and business planning.
“The centre’s purpose is to create new, and support existing,agribusinesses in the rural districts of Bougouni and Yanfolila. The ultimate goal of WAARI is to develop sustainable agribusinesses, create employment opportunities, generate economic activity and encourage technology development and innovation including environmental sustainability in the long term,” says Togola. The initial focus for the incubator will be around three categories of commodities namely: Cereals including millet, sorghum, rice, maize and Fonio; Fruit, mainly mango and oranges for juice production; and Forest products such as Shea Butter, honey and tea, and possibly other forest products such as baobab, tamarind and hibiscus.
Product Focus
Cereals are by far the most important food commodities in Mali, constituting about 90% of total food consumption. Production of cereals is therefore very important for Malian farmers, including smallholders. Fonio and maize are two of the cereals selected due to its potential for production expansion in the area and for its processing versatility. Fonio will be prioritised due to its non-inclusion in food security programmes. “Fonio is a high value crop and demand is increasing, not only in Mali but the whole of Western Africa. It is easy to cultivate but traditional processing is very cumbersome, in terms of threshing, de-hulling, polishing etc.because the grains are very small. It is only used for human consumption.
Simple machines to more effectively process Fonio exist, but their use is very limited both in Mali generally and in the incubator area,” explains Togola.
Maize will receive secondary attention after the start-up period of the Incubator is complete. Maize is one of the most important cereals in Mali and dominates production in the area. It is the main processed cereal with numerous mills locally and across Mali. Hybrid seeds have been available for a number of years but not in sufficient quantities leaving scope for increased production. Maize is increasingly used as animal feed and prices on the world market have recently risen steeply. There is considerable potential for the improvement of the milling technology used in many village mills to prevent contamination of the final product. This would be necessary to meet export market standards. Also, there are numerous possibilities for processing of maize into prepared foods such as pasta blended with other types of cereals (e.g. sorghum).
Rice will also be one of the primary crops due to its importance within the area as a major agricultural crop within the women’s rice cooperative in Selingue.
With regards to fruit, the incubator locality is very suitable for fruit production which is currently substantial. Mango is the dominant fruit grown in the region but production of oranges is also considerable. Notable is that production of mangoes in the incubator area has increased substantially (about 30%) during the period 2005 to 2008. This may be a result of public mango extension programmes involving small-holder members of the cooperative union (also a member of the consortium). Potential entrepreneurs may benefit from these already existing efforts as close proximity farming to farms are beneficial when processing highly perishable fruits such as mangoes.Furthermore, the different harvest seasons for mangoes and oranges can be exploited to ensure year-round fruit production and processing. Oranges are harvested from November to February while mangoes (those suitable for juice production) are harvested from March to June. “It is envisaged that processing of various other forest products e.g. juice from Baobab, Tamarind and Hibiscus,could add market value to mango and orange products as well as lengthen agricultural productivity throughout the year when mango and oranges are out of season.”
Non-timber forest products are an important income source for rural households, estimated at 10-15 billion CFA per year, constituting between 20-60% of rural households’ income, this is where Shea Butter, honey and tea will feature as product extensions.
Says Togola: “These forest products are all important components in the traditional diet and Shea (primarily in the form of kernels) has considerable export potential for mixing with other tropical oils to manufacture various types of cocoa butter substitutes. Recently it has also been applied to cosmetics, a use which has been known in West Africa for centuries. However, Shea is still primarily used as a frying medium and to produce soap. In relation to the incubator locality,the commodity is available in substantial volumes and there is free access in the forest area. Additionally, there is a huge potential for Shea to move from export of kernels to exports of butter if compliance with the relevant food safety and quality standards can be established. It is notable that a country like Togo (in volume terms)exports 5 times as much Shea butter as Mali, even though Mali is the biggest producer of Shea in West Africa.”
Speaking at the opening of the incubator,Dr William Dar, ICRISAT Director General spoke to the essence of WAARI, “Public-Private Partnerships hold the key for activating the Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD) strategy in order to replicate and scale-up the benefits of technology interventions and science-based solutions for millions of smallholder farmers. One of the best ways of achieving this is to promote entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector. Agribusiness incubation creates agro-enterprises and jobs which ultimately benefit the small holder farmers. Agribusiness incubators have now become vital to agribusiness sectors worldwide, where technology serves as a precursor for improving the economic, social and environmental conditions especially of rural communities,” he concluded.
“Access to information and data about agricultural systems, agri-methods to improve farming practices and sustainable development including environmental impacts, water management,soil management and adapting to climate change”
– WAARI Incubator management.

Sustainable futures for African retailers

Businesses, food retailers in particular, often struggle to implement sustainability measures; this is often thought of as taking money from shareholders. However, as more pressure builds from the public, they are forced to look at combining sustainability and good business practices. In Africa it is particularly difficult as there are development and infrastructure challenges. An in-depth look at prominent retailers across the continent gives an indication on how far the continent is on this development.
South Africa’s largest retailer, The Shoprite Group, has an increasing footprint in Africa which includes Shoprite, Checkers, OK stores, House & Home, Megasave Wholesalers, Hungry Lion, and TransPharm. According to the group, it does not have a designated sustainability officer, instead sustainability is viewed as a shared responsibility by a number of divisional managers and heads of department.
In their 2014 non-financial report the group indicated that it is focusing on the environmental impact of its value chain. The environmental impact of their activities has a direct impact on the current and future price of the products.
“Our response to climate change forms part of our overall business strategy and is aligned with investor requirements, regulatory changes and operational impacts. We have completed four reports to the Carbon disclosure project with extensive reports on our approach to climate change, our perceived risks and opportunities,current initiatives and targets to drive future projects. We recognise the potential impacts of climate change on our business and are committed to managing these in a sustainable manner. The biggest direct impact of climate change on our business will be increased costs due to the impact of the planned South African carbon tax, operational costs due to potential requirements for mandatory emissions reporting, costs associated with fuel and energy taxes and regulations, increases in capital expenditure due to green building requirements and other general environmental regulations,” said Whitey Basson, Group CEO. Furthermore the group is implementing emission reduction projects as well as assisting their wider value chain by replacing light fittings with more energy efficient alternatives; optimising supply chain activities both with trading partners and within the Shoprite distribution network, at all-time optimising travel distances; fuel efficient driving practices, reduced kilometres travelled and fugitive emission reductions; and utilising environmentally friendly fuels for refrigeration in trucks, to reduce carbon emissions. The group says that it supports the National
Environmental Waste Act of 2008 principle of waste avoidance first, followed by reduction, re-use and recycling where possible, “Shoprite aims to reduce the use of one-way packaging by purchasing re-usable packaging equipment.
Ways to recycle materials and reduce landfill contribution are constantly being assessed, and the group collaborates with suppliers on new packaging initiatives.
A reclamation centre in Centurion centre remains the testing ground for all store returns including the return of damaged product – further reducing the mileage, fuel and carbon emissions of our trading partners. The Group introduced reusable equipment for moving products,including plastic totes, crates and rolltainers.This change resulted in a large reduction in wooden pallets. Also, an added benefit of this equipment is the reduced physical involvement of effort required from staff, thereby increasing efficiency. Their present implementing procedures for the collection of recyclable waste with a view to bale and sell it centrally.
For their first year, they baled and sold more than 100 tons of cardboard and 30 tons of plastic. The potential to increase this is promising and they have set significantly higher targets for the coming year.
Retailer Pick n Pay says sustainable development is one of its key business drivers. According to Marketing and Sustainability Director, Bronwen Rohland, “We do not do a thing in the business without knowing the impact. We want to be on the leading edge and set the tone for other retailers to follow. The approach is to ensure it becomes more resilient by embedding sustainable practices into core activities.” As a food retailer, food security is top priority for the group. This is supported by six pillars, or focus areas, which impact on PnP’s ability to do business and create value into the future. These focus areas are: enhancing governance and accountability; empowering staff; supporting communities (corporate social investment); providing safe food and expanding sustainable product lines; building a resilient supply base; and working for a clean and healthy environment. PnP is implementing new solutions through- out its business.
“There is a lot of theory out there from suppliers and it is important to be willing and able to test it in your own stores, and this helps to build the case for return on investment. It is often a leap of faith, but it must be worked back into the business case,” says Rohland. There are a number of ‘greener’ options available to consumers in PnP stores. Feedback through consumer focus groups has shown that PnP customers want to engage in more sustainable living, but want this to be easy. They want to be given a choice, and they want relevant information on products to be easily accessible.It has been important for PnP to be able to supply these products at a reasonable or comparable price to traditional products.
“PnP really aims for a pricing entry point that is not prohibitive. We don’t want it to be an elite offering. Yes, the more affluent customer can afford to pay a premium, but it should be accessible to all,” says Rohland. According to the retailers, in 2012/2013 it was awarded numerous sustainability achievements in response to climate change when it was awarded the Climate Change Leadership Award for the retail sector. They were also the only retailer to be included in the top 10 companies on the 2012 Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index. Furthermore an announcement by the retailer to sell only Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified seafood sustainable products across their entire fresh, frozen and canned seafood range, by the end of 2015.
Pick n Pay becomes the first African retailer to follow the growing international trend by making a formal commitment to source only from sustainable fisheries, thereby transforming their seafood operations.
South Africa’s second largest retailer already currently stocks a variety of frozen South African hake products bearing the globally recognised MSC eco-label and through this initiative the number and range of certified products is likely toexpand further. Rohland says: “As one of the country’s largest retailers, we cannot ignore the fact that seafood is inextricably linked to food security and that it provides the primary source of food or income for 2.6-billion people globally. As a retailer and significant role player in the seafood industry, we will help to drive positive change in fisheries by supporting and promoting sustainable seafood choices from legal and responsibly managed sources.”
According to Justin Smith, Woolworths Head of Sustainability, “sustainability within the business is somewhat a moving target and is a constant learning process, and for that reason, that is why they refer to their process as a Good Business Journey Plan, “Four years into the programme we revised our targets and priority areas as much had changed and some of the assumptions we made did not apply any longer. We realised, for instance, that energy savings should be given greater priority. We also assumed that reducing packing was the trick to managing waste and reducing landfill sites. We soon learned that reducing packing often results in food waste and that using recycled material in packing and making the packaging itself recyclable was a better option most of the time. We had committed to only selling free range eggs and later, using only free range eggs in prepared means. We set ourselves challenging targets which we sometimes couldn’t meet as customers and suppliers could not afford the additional costs of the initial phase of developing a free range industry. We persevered; the costs are now affordable for customers and currently about 90% of our prepared food is made with free range eggs.”
He added, “We’re also committed to selling only sow friendly pork. We’ve met our own deadline to sell sow friendly fresh pork by December 2014 ahead of the industry target of 2020. But our plan to roll out sow friendly pork to prepared meals is proving more challenging than initially thought due to the costs and time required for farms to change infrastructure. What you have to do is keep the commitment and try and find a different way to get there. We were committed to free range eggs and we got there. We’re committed to sow friendly pork meals, and we’ll get there.”
Furthermore Smith highlighted that Woolworths realised quite early that being a successful business also depends on protecting the environment and supporting the people impacted by the business, “When it comes to driving sustainability in the business, a few critical issues work in our favour. We have support for our programme at Board and executive level which means there is a serious and consistent commitment to doing business more sustainably.
Secondly, we have targets that we measure regularly and incorporate in our company balanced scorecard. Thirdly, we have focused on sustainability issues that are not only important for Woolworths and our suppliers, but for the entire country. These include, for instance, water, energy, transformation and social development. Finally, we could not have done this without the support of our customers.”
Smith says the retailer is also transferring their Good Business Journey plan to other countries where its interests lie, “We are in the process of extending our programme to 2020 at a Group level, making sure we do so in a way that drives consistency of approach, but allows for recognition and consideration of local issues and standards too. These are exciting opportunities as it means we can almost ‘export’ our sustainability capital to other territories in the southern hemisphere where we have an interest.”
The Shoprite Group tel: +27 (0) 21 9804000;
Pick n Pay Group tel: +27 (0) 21 658 1000;
Woolworths Group: tel: +27 (0) 21 407 7002;

Spiroflow’s bulk bag filling solution boosts baby food production

Spiroflow Ltd, world-leading manufacturer of conveying and weighing systems, has boosted productivity at a household name baby food manufacturer by installing a bulk bag (FIBC) filler and vacuum conveyor system to significantly reduce the need for manual handling.
Shifting millions of tonnes of very fine ingredients is part and parcel of the production process for food companies, which must have systems and equipment in place that adhere to regulatory requirements.
The company specified a bulk bag (FIBC) filler for various infant formulas and powders. The equipment is
manufactured entirely of stainless steel with automatic height adjustment for different-sized bags, and offers bag inflation and a vibration facility for an even, accurate fill and effective compaction – resulting in a stable load for both storage and transportation.
Completing the ATEX approved conveying and bulk handling solution is a gas flushing connection and vacuum
conveyor system for the safe, accurate and dust-free filling and transportation of powdered milk.
Deploying a filling machine for bulk bags and vacuum conveyor system for transporting the product is saving the company the equivalent of 40 25kg sacks per filling and reducing handling downstream, as the product is emptied automatically rather than manually.
The firm’s site engineer chose Spiroflow as he had positive previous experience of its conveying equipment, having previously purchased flexible screw conveyors from Spiroflow several years ago – which are still operating satisfactorily to this day.
The customer used bulk bags to reduce manual handling and increase hygiene levels: bulk bags are one of the most convenient, cost-effective methods of packaging, storage and transport.
Market-leading customers in industries ranging from food and pharmaceuticals to plastics and building products, use Spiroflow’s handling systems for bulk bags, usually for filling or discharging fragile or fine-particle products quickly and with the minimum of fuss.
In addition to bulk bag fillers and vacuum conveyors, Spiroflow also manufactures flexible screw conveyors,aero mechanical conveyors, tubular cable and chain drag conveyors, bulk bag dischargers, ingredients handling and weighing systems. The company’s technical and engineering expertise has led to it developing an international reputation for an unrivalled range of products with state-of-the-art control systems.
For more information on Spiroflow’s products and services visit or call
+44 (0)1200 422525.


GE and Endeavor Powering Ghana
GE and Endeavor Energy, co-leaders of the Ghana 1000 project, and their consortium partners Eranove and Sage Petroleum, have signed an agreement with Excelerate Energy for the reservation of an FSRU that will provide storage and regasification of liquified natural gas (LNG) for the Ghana 1,000, a 1,300- MW power plant that will be located in Aboadze in the Western Region of Ghana. The first phase of the Ghana 1,000 project is expected to be completed in late 2016 and will add 125 MW to the grid. This will increase to 750 MW by 2018 and 1,300 MW within five years.
The Ghanaian government is committed to creating an enabling environment and regulatory frameworks that will help the project sponsors add power quickly to the national grid. “Partnering with Excelerate Energy illustrates the remarkable progress made by the Ghana 1000 consortium, and once complete, it will deliver much-needed power to the people of Ghana,” said Leslie Nelson, GE Ghana CEO. ”We’re partnering with the right stakeholders to offer innovative solutions that will ultimately reduce the cost of power to the final consumer.”
Ghana 1000’s FSRU will have additional capacity to allow other power generators to shift from liquid fuels to LNG for power generation, which could save Ghana up to $1 billion (R11,5 billion) per year.
Excelerate has capabilities to regasify 500 million standard cubic feet of LNG, enough gas to power approximately 3,000 MW.
East Africa
Food, chocolate invest millions to aid African farmers
French food company Danone and US-based chocolate manufacturer Mars have announced a US$120mn (R13,83mn)investment over the next 10 years in an investment fund aimed at increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers in Africa. The Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming (Livelihoods 3F) will implement projects that will simultaneously restore the environment and put degraded ecosystems back on track while improving the productivity, incomes and living conditions of small rural farmers in Africa. According to Danone, Livelihoods 3F will provide upfront financing and technical support to non-governmental organisations and farmers’ organisations to implement projects in the field. It will operate as a mutual investment fund with shared risks and result-based returns.
Victoria Mars, chairman of Mars, said, “The fund will initially prioritise key crops in Mars’ and Danone’s product lines that are dominated by smallholder production. Examples such as vanilla, cocoa, sugar and palm feature among the obvious areas. Other possible options include milk, fruits, mint and peanuts, among others.” Frank Riboud, chairman of the board of directors at Danone, added that the fund will empower farmers, especially women, and improve the livelihoods of farming families in Africa.
Aquaculture training to be given to Zambian farmers

Luxon Kazabu, deputy minister of agriculture and livestock of Lusaka, Zambia has announced that the state will provide necessary training in fish rearing to encourage more farmers to venture into aquaculture to meet the country’s protein demand.
“The government’s decision to embark on fish farming will ensure that many of our farmers especially in rural areas where there are abundant water resources like Luapula, Muchinga venture into fish farming. Currently, we are producing less than 120,000 tonnes but we require about 156,000 tonnes annually,” said Kazabu.
According to the deputy minister, the government will help individuals with the necessary skills such as extensions services, placing of cages and construction of ponds, which is the basic way of fish farming. “The agriculture sector is a key area that will contribute to job creation as well as reduce poverty levels in the country,” said Kazabu.
Kazabu said that Zambia requires about 156,000 tonnes of fish annually. At present the country produces 85,000 tonnes of fish per year with about 6,000 tonnes of fish being imported annually from India, Zimbabwe, China and other countries.
Kwale farmers to benefit from food security initiative

Kenyan director of agriculture David Wanjala has confirmed that more farmers in Kwale will benefit from the food security initiative this year. According to Wanjala the number will increase from 6,000 in 2014 to more than 12,000 farmers. He added that the county government is buying 10 more tractors to help farmers in clearing farms for free and that the project which was launched in 2014 has increased farmers’ harvest.
“The yields per acre in 2014 ranged from three bags to 25 with an average of 10 bags per acre against an average of four without farm inputs,” he said.
– The Star
WBIRF reimburses affected farmers

The World Bank Insurgency Relief Fund (WBIRF) has disbursed N787 million (R44,9)mn to four affected farming communities in Borno State, for investments in “agricultural and livestock production” by farmers to sustain their incomes and national food security in North East sub-region of the country.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Hajiya Inna Galadima warned the affected farmers not to misuse WBIRF, “I urge all the benefiting communities “to make good use of these funds by investing it in farming activities, so that your incomes and food sustainability could be increased and sustained, despite the security challenges you had been facing for the last five or six years in Borno State,” she said, adding that employing the funds for the purpose intended is the only way to sustain the World Bank assisted programme.The development may have also come as a relief to the farmers as insurgency affected farming communities located in 15 local government areas of the state, including the Lake Chad Basin areas of Marte and Kala/Balge.
Inna explained that prudent use of the resources would engender more credibility and assistance from donor agencies, enhancing resource flow that would promote agriculture in Borno State. “The state government would look into the issue of overwithdrawal of funds meant for Borno by other benefiting states through the National Fadama Coordination Office last year,” assured Galadima.
Furthermore, the Borno State coordinator of the Fadama III project, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Tijjani, said that the scheme was a tripartite project of the World Bank, federal and the state governments to stimulate agriculture growth of peasant farmers.
He said the state government had got $200,000.00 (R2,2mn) for disbursement under the WBIRF.
– Njadvara Musa,Sophie Mbugua
East Africa
Pilot project may save thousands in energy

A pilot project to turn waste into biogas is getting started this month in Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the Bio-resources Innovations Network for Eastern Africa (Bio-Innovate), the effort aims to provide training and technology to agricultural factories to help them generate their own power, save on electricity and cut down on climate changing emissions. According to Joseph Kyambadde, head of biochemistry at Makerere University and one of those involved with the project, their initiative is able to generate on average about 10 to 15 cubic metres of biogas daily from a slaughter house that runs 24 hours a day, turning up to 700 cattle, 200 sheep and 300 chickens each day into meat for the local market. To turn waste into power, the slaughterhouse puts its waste and wastewater through a fermentation process that releases methane, which is then captured and burned to produce electricity. “With 60 cubic metres of gas we (would be) able to run about 15 security lights, 15 deep freezers and 15 refrigerators at the abattoir, helping save around 8 million Ugandan shillings (R31,933.00) per month,” Kyambadde said. To add to the project’s green credentials, it uses solar panels to heat water and raise the temperature in the digester, to allow it to produce the most burnable methane, said Robinson Odong, a biological sciences lecturer at Makerere University and a manager of the biogas project. Besides helping the slaughterhouse get around the city’s frequent blackouts, using biogas for energy has cut the plant’s monthly diesel bill by 90%. “We are now spending 300,000 Ugandan shillings (R1,197.51) per month on diesel instead of 3.5 million shillings (R13,970.00), as the generator now runs on biogas during power blackouts,” said Nsubuga Muhamed, the Kampala City Abattoir secretary.
According to Odong, the project currently treats 40% percent of the Kampala abattoir’s waste, though the facility plans to eventually treat 100%. “There are plans to upscale the technology to completely rely on biogas and sell the excess (energy) to the national grid,” said Kyambadde.
— Thompson Reuters Foundation

Africa tackles renewable energy challenge

Nigeria’s Lagos state has taken an initiative to install more than 172 solar panels to light public schools in the region. State governor, Babatunde Fashola, launched the initiative when the first of the panels were installed at Model College. “This new initiative is a planned and an organized approach to resuscitating education from its challenges. The school will now be powered by renewable energy with very reliable maintenance and is expected to serve the college for the next 25 years,” said Fashola.
According to Fashola, this clear indication of Nigeria’s ability to leapfrog with technology is dependent on technology and electricity, “that one can buy all of the technology in the world and connect to the internet or the hotspot but what is uppermost is how to get electricity to power it,” he adds.
A similar initiative has also been launched in South Africa. GiveITback, an initiative that has dedicated itself to designing and installing complete computer labs for underprivileged schools, along with its partners Poynting and African Union Communications, donated the first of its Solar Powered Computer Labs to Umhloti Primary School in Verulam, KwaZulu Natal.
GiveITback’s Solar Powered Container Lab is the first of its kind available commercially in Africa. These labs hold 21 computers and are specifically developed to address the lack of electrical infrastructure, lack of building infrastructure, and lack of access to technology as is prevalent in many areas of South Africa, as well as the rest of the continent. The benefit of the Solar Powered Container Lab is that it allows access to IT, learning, and clean energy regardless of existing infrastructure restrictions, and has a seven-hour run life before it needs to be recharged.
Renewable energy seems to be a viable alternative for the continent.Speaking at the Africa Energy Indaba
in Sandton, South Africa, Gauteng’s infrastructure development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said, “Solar energy and energy for landfill gas are the most obvious short-term projects that we have embarked on… It will be implemented at provincial and municipal level. Solar water heaters are being rolled out to municipalities and solar street and traffic lights are being introduced. Solar panels are also being used by many government buildings in the city centre. We have also started a process of ensuring the boilers we use in our hospitals will be run by natural gas and not by coal.”
Meanwhile in Kenya, Solarcentury, one of the global leaders in solar has joined forces with local Kenyan company East African Solar to establish a bigger office in the region. The new company combines Solarcentury’s British engineering experience of delivering, operating and maintaining solar installations with local industry experience and insight provided by solar industry expert Guy Lawrence, former CEO of East African Solar. A local seven man team will aid Dr Dan Davies, Director of Solarcentury in East Africa and Lawrence to deliver solar projects throughout East Africa. In 2014 Solarcentury completed a 1-MW solar farm for Williamson Tea, a tea grower with a long heritage in Kenya.
Solarcentury is also building the largest solar carport in East Africa for Garden City, a new retail complex in Nairobi.
giveITback: tel: +27 31 826 5959;
Poynting: Melissa Gonsalves tel: +27 10 007 2020;
African Union Communications: tel: +27 12 001 8670;
Solar Century: tel: + 254 0 701 918 683;

Advantages and disadvantages of solar power
Advantages of Solar Power?
• Solar energy is a clean and renewable energy source.
• Once a solar panel is installed, solar energy can be produced free of charge.
• Solar energy will last forever whereas it is estimated that the world’s oil reserves will last for 30 to 40 years.
• Solar energy causes no pollution.
• Solar cells make absolutely no noise at all. On the other hand, the giant machines utilized for pumping oil are extremely noisy and therefore very impractical.
• Very little maintenance is needed to keep solar cells running. There are no moving parts in a solar cell which makes it impossible to really damage them.
• In the long term, there can be a high return on investment due to the amount of free energy a solar panel can produce. It is estimated that the average household will see 50% of their energy coming in from
solar panels.
Disadvantages of Solar Power?
• Solar panels can be expensive to install resulting in a time-lag of many years for savings on energy bills to match initial investments.
• Electricity generation depends entirely on a country’s exposure to sunlight; this could be limited by a country’s climate.
• Solar power stations do not match the power output of similar sized conventional power stations; they can also be very expensive to build.
• Solar power is used to charge batteries so that solar powered devices can be used at night. The batteries can often be large and heavy, taking up space and needing to be replaced from time to time.

Closer to nature…. a roundup of the latest caps and closures

Closures play a vital role in keeping packaged food and beverages fresh and germ free once it is in the market. Ease of use with a bottle seal or cap can be crucial when working out or playing sports and re-closable caps that keep liquids from spilling can be important for busy parents with kids in the back seat.
Flip top caps and dispensing closures have also become increasingly popular in food and beverage products. These types of closures can be used for sauce bottles, food containers, spices, seasonings, sports drinks and many more products.
Tetra Pak
Tetra Pak, a leader in the food processing and packaging solutions business, has created what is known as the TwistCap OSO 34 bio-based caps for gable top packages. The caps which are highly innovative, are made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) derived from sugar cane, instead of traditional fossil fuels. “The TwistCap OSO 34 is a clear indication of Tetra Pak ambition to create fully renewable packages. Thus far 80% of the material in a one-litre Tetra Rex carton is paperboard, which is made from wood. Introducing the TwistCap to the package increases its renewable content by 4%, bringing it to 84%,” explains Charles Brand, VP Marketing & Product Management at the company. “We live in an age where consumers expect companies to offer products that enable them to adopt environmentally responsible behaviours in their everyday lives with relative ease”, he concludes. The bio-based caps won the Best Closure category at the World Beverage Innovation Awards ceremony in Nuremberg, Germany.
RPC Verpackungen Kutenholz (RPC)
RPC Verpackungen Kutenholz (RPC), one of the global providers of rigid plastic containers and closures has created various bottles that boost new applicable closures. The Allrounder bottle from RPC is a 875ml HDPE bottle which boosts either a head standing or a dosing cap.
The head standing caps are made of polypropylene (PP) and come with a range of induction heat seal foils (I.H.S), weigh a mere 11.5grams, 25.58mm in height and are a standard 38mm neck, although customised sizes and colours can be made. RPC has also designed a one of a kind modern snap-on flip top range for Schwartauer dessert sauces company in Europe.
Bericap has also launched a range of modern design closures, starting with 33mm closures for hot filling (including bottleneck) which are significantly smaller than the industry standard 38mm, resulting in a weight saving of almost 40%. The closures DoubleSeal system enables the implementations of a threaded neck thickness of 1.5mm, preventing the threaded neck to take an oval shape during hot filling. The company also offers push-pull sports closures which can match the relevant threaded neck, for outdoor consumption and in action consumption. The flow volume through this closure is bigger than average and does not include an aluminium foil. “There are lighter closure variants which permit the use of a threaded neck of only 1.5mm thickness and contributes to a significant saving of weight while push-pull closures for hot filling into 28 of 38mm are feasible too,” says the company.
Fontana’s extensive range of closures includes 28mm one-piece/two piece closures for still and carbonated drinks, 30mm one-piece closures for still drinks, 38mm one-piece closures and 45mm one piece closures suitable for 5L PET water bottles. “Our sport closure range includes 28mm, 30mm, and 38mm sizes. Our latest flip-top sports closure includes 30mm and 38mm sizes. Ourcomprehensive range of industrial closures suits a number of applications in the edible oil, motor oil, chemical, paint and solvent industries. Our products include drip free pourers, child resistant caps and special seals for harsh chemicals. Our variety of plastic handles is designed for metal containers and paper sacks of various shapes and sizes,” says the company. Fontana is now also providing the beverage market with new
and exciting ways to reduce costs like the one-piece AB 28mm range and its new Flip Top sport closure.
Bericap tel: + 27 (0)11-249-5200;
Fontana tel: +27 (0) 39 973 2690;
Tetra Pak: tel +27 (0) 11 570 3001;;
RPC Verpackungen Kutenholz(RPC): tel +49 4762 890;

The changing game of PET

Bottled water remains the top selling item in the global non-alcoholic beverage market. Countries like Nigeria are forecast to consume 49,647 million litres by 2018. It has a steady growth of water consumption of more than 11% over the past four years. These statistics proves the dire need for PET producers and manufacturers to up their game in the production of bottled water while also providing sustainable solutions for wastage such as recycling.
Sidel a leading global provider of PET solutions for liquid packaging, has introduced StarLite as a new design to the base of standard PET bottles. With a slightly altered design from the standard base, StarLite gives added durability, stability, and overall resistance to the bottles. Additionally, the new design offers a more energy efficient method of production, allowing producers to achieve significant savings on both energy and the amount of PET used for the overall production of the bottles.
According to the company, the design employs two different components in the base simultaneously. “The first component is the Edge Beam, which is a groove system that keeps the base rigid. The second component of the design is called the Smart Disc. This underlying facet gives the base more structure while preventing deformities during any part of the production line.
Producers adopting this new base design can expect to see up to 30% resistance from top-load denting on the pallet and up to 55% side-load resistance on the conveyor belt or in a vending machine. In addition to shock and pressure resistance, these features give the bottles added resilience to extreme conditions. In tests of extreme heat above 50°C, bottles with the StarLite technology averaged up to
25 days without bottle deformation. On the other hand, under frozen conditions they experience up to a 50% reduction in bottle rollout. This will be extremely beneficial to producers in Africa during the hot summer months,” says Samuel Gobbe, the Customer Service Director at Sidel.
StarLite technology also allows for more light weight options for producers. By implementing the technology, an average of 1 gram of PET for 0.5 litre bottles and up to 2 grams of PET for 1.5 litre bottles could be saved. This equates to €700,000 cost savings per year. Furthermore, energy savings are
also a huge possibility. Only 16-20 bars of pressure are required for 0.5 to 1 litre bottles, as opposed to the standard 25 bars, equating to 25% in energy cost savings (€900,000). Says Gobbe: “It has become increasingly apparent that we have to make our customer’s PET do a lot more for them. This new technology
will ensure that their PET is being used efficiently and effectively while they enjoy the savings.” He continued: “As with all of our new innovations, StarLite is compatible with our Matrix technology, as well as integrated into already existing bottle designs. It is a perfect fit in high heat environments as it shows resistance to the very high temperatures and is easily adaptable to customer requirements.”
Sidel has furthermore launched a new initiative aimed at reducing the amount of PET used in beverage bottles worldwide. The online PET savings calculator as it is known is a system that allows beverage producers and bottlers to calculate for themselves what savings could be achieved based on their own production parameters.
“The benefits of light weighting PET bottles are well known, in the beverage industry. However many producers are still not taking advantage of innovative new bottle designs that could help them make substantial cost savings,” says Clive Smith, Zone Vice-President for the Middle East and Africa at Sidel. “According to our calculations there remains a great opportunity for the beverage industry to
reduce raw material usage, save costs and improve environmental footprints by adopting new bottle designs, especially for water and carbonated soft drinks (CSD).
Furthermore, these modern designs are often only subtle appearance variations of existing designs that can easily be applied to existing production lines with no difference to the end consumer experience.”
The calculator is available
Mpact Limited, the JSE-listed manufacturer of paper and plastic packaging and a major paper recycler, has made a major move into plastics recycling when it unveiled plans for a R350-million state-of-the-art polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling plant.
The new plant will process about 29 000 tons of PET plastic bottles a year, generating 21 000 tons of new
raw material directly from what was previously considered waste material that would have been sent to landfill sites. This raw material is commonly referred to as rPET. Collecting and processing 29 000 tons of PET bottles amounts to a saving of about 180 000 cubic metres of landfill space each year, the equivalent of 75 Olympic-size swimming pools. Mpact anticipates that about 1 000 jobs will be created directly and indirectly to operate the new plant and collect the 29 000 tons of PET bottles needed as input material.
Bruce Strong, chief executive officer of Mpact, says the entry into plastic recycling is an exciting opportunity. “Mpact is starting a new venture that will add an important dimension to our business. It is an excellent fit with our strategy and will enhance our position as a leading beneficiator of recyclables in South Africa.” He adds that the new business will supply Mpact customers with a reliable and high-quality source of raw material while providing waste collectors with a committed buyer of used plastic bottles. Further, the benefits to the environment are substantial. “The R350-million that Mpact is investing in plastic recycling, and the R765-million investment we announced in March this year for upgrading our Felixton paper mill, are tangible evidence of our commitment to exploiting sound growth
opportunities,” says Strong. The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has provided loan funding of R210-million in debt and R30-million for its equity stake of 21% in Mpact Polymers. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has approved a Section 12I tax incentive.
The PET recycling plant will be part of Mpact Polymers, a newly formed operating entity within Mpact Limited. It will be built in Wadeville, Germiston, close to one of Mpact’s existing plastics manufacturing facilities.
Mpact: Deborah Chapman:tel +27 11 994 5547;;
Sidel: tel: +971 4 429 1805;;

PET Facts
1. The PET bottle was first patented in 1973 by chemist Nathaniel Wyet
2. The first PET container was recycled in 1977
3. The 22 737 tons of PET collected in 2008 translates into an estimated 12 000 jobs
4. 1 ton = 30,000 plastic bottles
5. Recycling 1 ton of PET saves 1.5 tons of Carbon Dioxide vs. land filling or incineration (Credit : WRAP)
6. Recycling one ton of PET containers saves 6.2 cubic meters of landfill space
7. Up to 40% less fuel is used to transport drinks in plastic bottles compared to glass bottles
8. Approximately 30 bottles = 1kg PET
9. It takes 19 x 500ml PET bottles to make the fibre for a standard pillow
10. Recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60W light bulb for up to 6 hours
11. Since 1978, manufacturers have reduced the weight of a 2 litre bottle by about 29% from 68 grams to 48 grams
12. 25 recycled PET bottles can be used to make an adult’s fleece jacket