Category: Agrifood

Drought kills livestock

At least 12 cattle have succumbed to drought in Gwanda District with more expected to die due to drought in Matabeleland South province, officials said.
Geoffrey Hove, the Gwanda district acting livestock production and development officer told a Rural District Development Committee (RDDC) meeting that two donkeys had also died due to the drought.
“Manama has the highest number of cattle deaths recorded of which six cattle have succumbed to drought while Nhwali, Gungwe and Sibona areas have recorded two cattle deaths each. The situation is bad. Grazing conditions are now very poor especially in the communal areas. We’re likely to record more deaths because there’s so much outcry from the farmers regarding the current situation,” said Hove.
In 2012, the province lost more than 9 000 cattle as the effect of the drought took a toll.
In April this year, Paddy Zhanda, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development responsible for livestock, accompanied by officials from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), visited the province to assess the drought situation.
“We’re really pleading with the Government to come to our rescue because livestock is the main source of our livelihoods. We’re trying by all means to save our livestock but it’s difficult,” said Cosmas Nyathi, a farmer from Manama.
Although the recorded cattle deaths are in Gwanda district so far, Beitbridge, Matobo, Bulilima, Insiza and Mangwe districts are likely to also start losing cattle.
More than 350 000 cattle are at risk of succumbing to drought in Matabeleland South if no intervention measures are put in place to save the livestock in this cattle ranching region. – The Herald

Massey Ferguson launches two new combines for 2016 – South Africa

Massey Ferguson, an AGCO brand, has announced MF Activa 7340 and MF Activa 7344 combines for the 2016 season.
The new five straw-walker, MF Activa 7340 combine replaces the MF Activa 7240 and is an entry-level machine powered by a 176 horsepower, AGCO Power 4.9 litre, four cylinder engine.
Highlighting the benefits of the new four cylinder combine, Adam Sherriff, marketing manager at Massey Ferguson, said, “It has been a long time since a combine has been powered by a four cylinder engine. This offers the operating benefits of a six cylinder, but in a lighter, smaller package. Fewer moving parts reduce friction leading to lower fuel consumption with quieter operation.”
With the engine comes a new CANbus linked control panel in the cab whose colour screen shows a range
of engine and combine operating information. The cab also has a new multifunction lever, similar to that used on larger Massey Ferguson combines, that provides convenient control of all the commonly-used combine functions.
Depending on the width of the crop being harvested, a new ‘sectional’ concave can be changed through the stone trap without needing to remove the elevator.
The concave also has independent front and rear adjustment options to improve threshing performance.
The new MF Activa 7344, which replaces the MF Activa 7244, is now available with the option of a 5.5 metres wide PowerFlow header. “PowerFlow is proven to boost output by up to 73% in oilseed rape, 15% in wheat and 12% in barley. It is also particularly useful in difficult conditions, helping farmers secure more of their harvest, more quickly,” explained Sherriff.
AGCO is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural equipment.
Massey is available in South Africa and a few other African countries

Arda to expand Katiyo Tea Estates – Zimbabwe

The Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (Arda) intends to expand Katiyo Tea Estates by an additional 300ha as it targets to re-start the factory in the medium term. Arda is currently utilising only 200ha of the estate in partnership with Eastern Highlands Tea.
Arda chairman Basil Nyabadza says: “ The plan is to re-start the factory and we are working to expand the estate by 300ha to have sufficient volumes to revive the factory.”.
Katiyo Tea was one of the most popular brands on the local market before the company closed down in 2012 due to low volumes. Nyabadza says Arda was pursuing a joint venture for the revival, adding that the company was also looking for partners to revive Gairezi Estate for timber and seed potato production. Arda is currently also looking for an investor for its cattle ranch in Masvingo and macadamia nuts plantations in Chipinge.
Nyabadza added: “Arda is in negotiations with Cottco Holdings to revive estates in Sanyati, Muzarabani
and Mushumbi Pools. We remain guided by the need to produce. Zimbabwe is now surrounded by weaker currencies and people are now looking at us as an attractive destination for their products,meaning that we should increase production.”
Since dollarisation, Arda has invested about US$575m (R7,6bn) in various projects through public, private
partnerships. Some of the major projects have been implemented this year, resulting in more than 10 estates being either revived or expanded, Nyabadza said – The Herald

Tepi Coffee fully privatised – Ethiopia

Green Coffee Agro Industry (GCAI) has bought a 49% share of Tepi Coffee Plantation (TCP) that was held by
Ethiopia’s government GCAI already held the other 51% share in TCP, which is the second largest coffee plantation in the country. GCAI will pay the government US$35,2 (R467m) for complete ownership of the plantation. Of this amount, the company has already paid about US$12,8m (R170,4m); the remainder will be paid over a five-year period, in terms of the deal.
A joint venture between GCAI and the government had been formed in 2011, with GCAI committing to improve
the productivity of the plantation from 400kg/ha to 1,200kg/ha. The company exceeded the target, achieving 1,300kg/ha, which formed the basis for the stake transfer agreement. Following the transfer of total ownership, the company will start to replace old plants with new ones, planting new coffee plants in vacant spaces and pruning existing ones to increase productivity.
Tadelle Abraha, general manager of GCAI said: “We are importing machinery from Colombia and Brazil for pruning and collection of coffee.”
The company plans to invest more than US$21m (R7,6 bn) to start roasting and packaging ground coffee and to replace ageing washing machines, originally imported from India and England, with new ones from Brazil,Abraha added.
The plantation currently produces more than 6,000 tons of coffee per year and plans to increase the area for growing coffee to 20,000ha in the next five years.
TCP has won numerous awards in recognition of its environmental practices and its commitment to sustainable coffee production.With the addition of TCP, GCAI now has three plantations. The other two are in Kaffa – one covering 1,500ha and the other 1,000ha.
Starbucks is a major buyer of GCAI’s coffee, according to Tadelle, who said that the company is also planning to sellcoffee honey to Starbucks –

Tongaat-Hulett launches sugar farm project (Mozambique)

Tongaat-Hulett has launched a project to support small-scale sugar farmers in Mozambique.
The South African agro-processing company will coordinate the scheme, which will see 362 farmers in Xinavane, Maputo province, divided into five associations, growing sugar cane on 520 hectares (ha) of land, with 30ha set aside for cultivating food crops. The sugar cane grown will be sold to Tongaat-Hulett for processing at its Xinavane mill, providing a guaranteed market for the farmers.
The farmers will also receive extension services and training in farm management skills from the firm. It is hoped that the project, which is funded to around US$ 4,3m (R57,12m) by the European Union (EU) and the Botswana based ABC Bank, will enable the farmers to achieve yields of 100 tons per hectare, with the first harvests expected within 14 months.
Project director Sancho Cumbe said the scheme will be mutually beneficial as the supply of cane to Tongaat-Hulett’s Xinavane factory will increase and a viable small-scale agricultural sector will be created in the area, providing a substantial boost to rural employment.
Tongaat-Hulett is said to be the largest private sector employer in Mozambique, with its two mills and its plantations employing 17,000 people at peak production times.

Integrated pest management

As soil fumigation becomes more restrictive, it will take new ways to control a growing problem of plant parasitic nematodes. Although most nematodes—microscopic roundworms that live in soil and water—are beneficial, plant-parasitic nematodes are not and cause economic damage by feeding on plant roots.
Plant parasitic nematodes were not always recognised as major pests but have recently come under scrutiny as they possess a highly toxic nature and pose a constant risk to applicators. Plant-parasitic nematodes interrupt the make-up of plants and decrease crop yields as well as the quality of various agricultural products substantially, resulting in economic losses for producers and related industries.
In an article by ARC-grain Crops Institute, Nancy Ntidi, explains that in general, root-knot nematodes are the most important and widespread group among plant-parasitic nematodes that attack and infect crops, “Damage due to plant-parasitic nematodes parasitism is usually more serious in subsistence farming communities than in first world countries. This is mainly due to knowledge gaps as well as the limited availability of infrastructure and finances in the subsistence agricultural sector. Weeds do not only compete with crops for space, light, nutrients and water, but also serve as alternative hosts for plant-parasitic nematodes during growing seasons as well as after harvesting. Certain weeds that serve as a supplementary source of human food (e.g. Amaranthus spp. “Morogo”) are for example prone to infection by plantparasitic nematodes.”
Furthermore Ntidi explains weeds that occur in agricultural cropping systems are not perceived as good
hosts of plant-parasitic nematodes and thus make it difficult for researchers or scientists to identify the effective and compatible integrated pest management strategies that will address both weed and nematode management collectively, “weeds reduce the efficiency of crop rotation aimed at nematode management since weeds are often neglected in nematode management plans. Weeds that serve as a supplementary food source, may not be intentionally removed by producers, but rather be semi-cultivated along with a given staple food crop. This inevitably leads to a build-up of plant-parasitic nematode populations and eventually the main crop suffers damage while producers are unaware of the situation.”
Corrective measures
Chemical companies have invested heavily in product stewardship and applicator training, as well as reducing the risk of applying highly toxic chemicals. Although at the 6th International Congress of Nematology (ICN) in Cape Town in 2014, two products containing two new active ingredients with different modes of action were launched. This, according to ICN, was the first new active ingredient to be registered against nematodes since 1992. The new products are safer and add far less of the active ingredient to the soil. Says the organisation “There is also a far greater focus on integrated pest management – more biological control agents in combination with conventional nematicides. Products containing more than one active ingredient are also being developed and include a product containing an insecticide and nematicide currently being investigated by the South African Sugarcane Research Institute (Sasri).”
Ntidi adds that the main objective of nematode control is to grow crops economically in the presence of plant parasitic nematodes, “However, keeping plant-parasitic nematode population levels low and manageable over seasons to enable the sustainable production of crops in the long term should be the most important objective. The most accurate way of diagnosing plant parasitic nematode problems in crop fields, is to send both plant tissue (i.e. root/tubers/seeds) and soil to a nematology laboratory for analyses. Weeds and nematode surveys conducted throughout South Africa indicated that weeds that commonly occur in agricultural cropping systems can be good hosts of plant-parasitic nematodes.Therefore an urgent need exists for the development and application of integrated, but effective nematode as well as weed management strategies to enable sustainable food production.”
Ntidi suggests the following:
Timely weeding of food plots:
necessary to limit infection of crops by plant-parasitic nematodes since weeds may serve as hosts and support the development and reproduction of these parasites.
• Addition of organic matter: helps retain soil moisture and adds to the available plant nutrients. Increased water and nutrient uptake by plants help to withstand nematode attack. Manures, peats or compost amendments will also increase the level of microbes in the soil and thus favours the build-up of other beneficial microorganisms that feed on all soil microbes, including non-parasitic nematodes. However, it is essential to ensure that compost used should not include partially decomposed roots/tubers that are infected with plant parasitic nematodes or other soil-borne pathogens. Previous research showed that decayed kraal manure treatments reduced root-knot nematode numbers between 41% and 71% in tomato trials and between 49% and 99% in maize trials planted in resource-poor areas.
• Soil solarisation: effective for small plots and entails covering the soil with transparent plastic during the summer season when high day temperatures are experienced. This strategy was also successfully applied in ARC trials and reduced general root-knot nematodes substantially. This strategy is based on the solarising effect of the heat from the sun that is shining through plastic together with the soil moisture to kill soilborne nematodes. It is particularly suited for areas where daily air temperatures are high, resulting in a high solar radiation of the soil where no plants are growing at that stage.
• Crop rotation: Plants that are related usually are susceptible to same pests and diseases and should not be planted close to each other or follow each other in a rotation cycle. Root crops in particular should not be planted in the same area of the garden in succeeding years because they are highly susceptible to plant parasitic nematodes and other pests and diseases.
• Host plant resistance: another option for the prevention of general root-knot nematodes population build-ups in cropping systems. This method is a good management choice because it involves minimal effort and expense. However, resistant crop varieties are not available for all vegetable crops.
• Use of green manure and or cover crops: vetiver grass and the Brassica cultivar, Nemat, reduced general rootknot nematode populations in both greenhouse and field trials. Vetiver grass can also add value for a producer where livestock forms an integral part of the farming system.
• Early season cropping: lettuce, onions, leafy green crops, green pea, bean and cabbage can be planted early in the growing season and during colder months to escape serious damage by plant parasitic nematodes. This is particularly recommended for areas where low temperatures prevail and in this way, prevent or limit general root-knot nematode reproduction and activity.
• Physical destruction of roots/other plant parts: destroy roots/other plant parts as soon as the plants are no longer growing in the garden. Plantparasitic nematodes continue to feed and reproduce on root fragments/other plant parts in the soil and build up to damaging levels for susceptible, followup crops.
Dr. Inga Zasada, research plant pathologist U.S. Department of Agriculture is of the opinion that a new approach with regards to nematode management, “We keep losing nematode management tools. We don’t have the nematode management tools that we had 40 years ago, and because of that, nematode management practices in the future will probably not be as effective as they were in the past.” Zasada is working to develop sustainable plant parasitic nematode management systems for small fruits and grapes.
Research encompasses developing production systems that integrate a range of tools to promote root health and suppress nematodes, as well as providing information on management strategies. Furthermore she believes that a better understanding of nematode biology—knowing when they are most active, where they reside in the soil, and what host plants they like—will help growers improve management strategies, especially if soil fumigation becomes more restrictive in the future. Says Zasada referring particularly to wine grape growers, “Knowing when nematodes are most active in the soil can help growers collect more accurate samples and better time nematicide applications. A longterm project is under way to learn how nematodes impact vine establishment and productivity of a vineyard. Three white and three red varieties have been planted into areas of a field either fumigated or not. Population dynamics of plant-parasitic nematodes, including root knot, as well as their impact on vine productivity, will be monitored during the coming years.”;

Nematodes lifecycle
Life cycles of plant-parasitic nematodes include the egg, four juvenile stages,and one adult stage. Most nematodes complete their life cycle in 20 to 40 days. For some nematodes, two to three generations are possible per year.
Knowing when nematodes are most active in the soil can help growers collect more accurate samples and better time nematicide applications. Root knot nematode is a sedentary endoparasite that lives most of its life within plant tissue. Some 300 to 400 eggs are laid on the root surface or in the root. Migration in the soil occurs at the second juvenile stage. More than 550 host plants are known, including potatoes, alfalfa, dandelion,and lamb’s quarters. According to U.S.Department of Agriculture research, root knot nematodes are concentrated in the top 18 inches of soil in clearly defined areas that follow water (drip lines) and roots. Dagger nematode is a migratory ectoparasite, spending all of its time in the soil living on the exterior of roots. Dagger nematodes can transmit tomato ringspot virus and grape fanleaf virus to grapes. The species that transmits tomato ringspot virus, X. index, has not been found in Washington vineyards.

Opportunities for agribusiness in Africa

Agribusiness is important to all economies in Africa because of the various contributions it makes to them.The term “agribusiness” denotes the collective business activities that are performed from farm to fork. Agribusiness therefore includes the supply of agricultural inputs, production and transformation of agricultural products, as well as their distribution to final consumers.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), agribusiness is one of the main generators of employment and income worldwide.
Gauteng opportunities
Brand South Africa, the research organization that markets and promotes South Africa, says the most important economic sectors in Gauteng are financial and business services, logistics and communications. “Agriculture is a relatively small sector that contributes about 1% to the provincial Gross Development Profit (GDP),” says Brand South Africa.
Research by KPMG titled “Performance of the Agricultural Sector” states that the Gauteng province’s agricultural sector targets the local urban population.
“It tends to be direct supplies to local produce markets and retailers,” says KPMG’s research.
The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural development (GDARD) has a R600m ($45,6m) budget for the 2014/15 year. The department has recently drafted an agribusiness support programme which identifies areas of high potential agribusiness in the province.
Potential agribusinesses that Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) should consider venturing in are:
• Maize – this is a widely cultivated crop in Gauteng. According to KPMG, the crop covers over 105 000 hectares in the province because a large part of the province falls within SA’s maize triangle – namely, Sedibeng, Metsweding and West Rand District Municipalities.
• Livestock farming – one of the agricultural cornerstones of Gauteng.It comprises 40% of the country’s agricultural output.
• Food processing – Brand South Africa says this makes up a significant part of the country’s economy.
• Veterinary services – defined as primary animal health and clinical services to small holder livestock farmers.
According to GDARD, there are existing opportunities to offer mobile veterinary services, particularly, more so in previously under-serviced areas.
• Biotechnology – a major industry of the future. It will apparently help with the creation of new sources of biodiesel and improve demand for oil seeds. KPMG says it has the potential to lower farmers’ input costs by using the biodiesel produced to meet energy requirements.
An emerging farmer requires a number of support structures for a farming business to become a success
– Including access to land and related resources, access to information and extension services, access to markets,and access to finance. Below are various institutions that provide financing in South Africa:
• The Land Bank– has loans for agriculture which are long, medium and short term – ranging from 18 months to 15 years. These are meant to finance land purchases
• National Empowerment Fund (NEF) – this rural and community development fund is designed to promote sustainable change in social and economic relations, and to support the goals of growth and development in rural communities through the financing of sustainable enterprises.
The fund has four product categories:project finance, business acquisition,expansion capital, and start-up. The funding threshold is from a minimum of R1m ($76,020.00) to R50m ($3,8m).
• Independent development Trust (IDC) – the IDC’s Agro Industries Strategic Business Unit provides support for a wide range of food and non-food production activities in the agricultural value chain. Requirements are that the project must create jobs. The minimum amount of funding is R1m ($76,020.00).
Only agro-processing is considered for finance.
• The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform – it’s Recapitalization and Development Progamme is aimed at land reform beneficiaries and land reform farms with mortgages. It is thus for emerging farmers who purchased farms privately, and irrigation schemes,and farms in communal areas. In order to receive funding, a comprehensive business plan for a five-year period must be presented.
• Micro Agricultural Financial Institutions of SA (MAFISA) – was established to facilitate the provision of equitable and large-scale access to financial services for poor communities. Its main aim is to provide capital to support economic activities in the sector. Accordingly, MAFISA provides short to medium term production loans to enhance agriculture, forestry and fisheries activities. It may lend up to R500 000 ($37 283) over a repayment period ranging from 12 to 60 months.• The Department of Trade and Industries (DTI) – provides financial support to companies that qualify in various sectors for manufacturing, business competitiveness, export development, market access industries, and foreign direct investments.
Private sector financial institutions that offer financing are inter-alia,Standard Bank, ABSA, Nedbank and First National Bank. Shaheen Hoosen, MD of Europe, Middle East, Africa Islamic Finance and Competence (EMEA IFC), provides the following advice on what should be noted when seeking funding or finance:
• There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finance and funding for projects.
• A lot depends on what kind of investment is required/requested and what stage the project is at.
• When applying for funding/financing it is important to use the correct terminology and demonstrate a
thorough understanding of the project.
• A concept note (like an executive summary) is an excellent tool to gain investor interest or curiosity.
• New technology introduced into the African context gains more favour if it has been proven – that is, tried and tested in African environment and circumstances
• Economic feasibility, based on fair projections and forecasting, is necessary to demonstrate the viability of the project.
• Offtake agreements and Letters Of Intent (LOIs) also indicate the viability of the project and project assessment for funding
• Islamic Finance and Competence is the sister company to Finance and Competence. In addition to offering conventional funding opportunities,it was created to cater to the growing need for businesses in Africa that require access to Shariah-compliant funding models.
Generally Shariah compliance is determined by a committee of Islamic financial and legal experts (Shariah
board) to ensure that a financial institution’s practices and products are in compliance with Islamic law.
EMEA IFC: Tel + 27 11 656 0466 or 082 786 1659; ;
The Land Bank: Tel +27 12 686 0500;
National Empowerment Fund: Tel +27 11 305 8000;
Independent Development Trust (IDC): Tel +27 12 845 2000;
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform:
Micro Agricultural Finance Institutions of SA (MAFISA): Tel +27 12 319 7295;
Department of Trade and Industry: Tel +27 12 394 5792;

Syngenta opens Africa’s first Seedcare facility

The Africa’s first ever Seedcare Institute in the town of Brits in the North West Province has been launched by Syngenta and is the 11th research development facility from the Institute. The facility looks to use a range of Syngenta technologies that protects and enhances the performance of field crop, vegetable and ornamental seeds to improve yields across the continent.Marc Bonfils, EAME Seedcare Technology Lead, says the South African facility is a strategic fit with Syngenta’s emerging market focus and its sustainable growth objectives. “Syngenta announced two years ago that it would invest $500m
(R65,5 trillion) in Africa to advance food security. From the Brits facility we can provide support to growers in South Africa and across the continent. In addition, the African headquarters of all our many seed company customers, such as Monsanto, Pioneer, Pannar, and SeedCo are all located in South Africa area. It just makes sense for Syngenta to make our expertise more readily available to them.”
In Syngenta language, Seedcare refers to a portfolio of Syngenta technologies that protects and enhances the performance of field crop, vegetable and ornamental seeds. The portfolio also contains products that stimulate growth and protect emerging crops from environmental stresses, such as drought, flooding or cold, and help the seedlings to process nutrients and water more efficiently. Seeds treated include corn, sunflower, and cereals such as wheat, soy and vegetables.Located at Syngenta’s formulation,fill and packaging (FF&P) plant in Brits, the Africa Middle East (AME) Seedcare Institute started operating at the end of April last year. According to Wayne van Rensburg, AME technology manager Seedcare, the development of seed treatment application recipes and their test on seed are services offered by Syngenta to its partners. Says van Rensburg: “Our work here is to set up the best local application quality of the active ingredients developed at the Global Institute in Switzerland, given our customers’ specific requirements.
The facility’ services include seed safety testing, seed preparations for trials, the analysis of treated seeds, recipe development and application and plant ability testing.” Previously, all seed tests had to be done in Switzerland. The opening of the local facility now places that expertise at the fingertips of the South African, African and Middle Eastern agricultural industries. By improving yield across the continent by just one ton per hectare, Africa can produce enough maize to feed its population.
The best way of achieving this is to start at the beginning – by planting the best possible seed.
The South African facility forms part of Syngenta’s Global Seedcare Institute Network that currently consists of the Global Seedcare Institute in Stein, Switzerland, and 10 other services centres across the globe (USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, Hungary,Ukraine, China AND South Africa). Furthermore the group is planning to open its second African seed-treatment institute in Kenya in 2016 and plans to expand in the continent’s western nations in the next five years. Abraham Vermeulen, the company’s head of corn,sugar and diverse field crops in the region says Kenya is one of the biggest seeds markets in Africa, “Kenya is the second biggest seeds market in Africa. We will be expanding to West African countries, most probably Nigeria, in the longer term. We must remember that a farmer who does not have seed-care protection on his plant will likely lose half of his harvest so equipping them will definitely be beneficial.”
Antonie Delport, MD of Syngenta South Africa, points out that the direct treatment of seed has been proven to be the best way to improve plant growth, prevent damage caused by pathogens and pests, and achieve higher yields. “Seeds are the foundation of the world’s food supply,” he adds. “Our seed specialists work with small holder and large commercial growers, as well as seed companies, to develop applications that mitigate risks and improve yields.
Faced with the growing challenge of producing more food with less resources and increasing concern for the environment, growers need the best quality seed possible.”
Seed treatment is the fastest growing segment of the global crop protection market and is expected to reach $4, 5bn (R58,8bn) by 2018. Responding to growing customer demand, Syngenta plans to open Seedcare institutes in Singapore and Mexico, and another five in other parts of the world in 2016.
Syngenta South Africa Tel: +27 11 541 4000;

Partnership launched to accelerate innovation in African farming

The Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA Africa) is pleased to announce a new Partnership Agreement with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), a joint institution of the African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) States and the EU.
“We believe this new partnership strengthens our overall objective for GFIA Africa, to demonstrate how innovation can provide technologies that accelerate agricultural productivity and improve nutrition and social prosperity in developing countries,” says Mark Beaumont, GFIA Project Director. “CTA, through its mission to advance food security, increase prosperity and sound natural resource management in ACP countries, shares many of GFIA Africa’s objectives,” he says.
Through its partnership with GFIA, the CTA will facilitate a comprehensive programme of events at GFIA Africa when it launches at the Durban Exhibition Centre in KwaZulu-Natal from 1 – 2 December this year.
“We are pleased to partner with GFIA Africa for this event as our organisation remains dedicated to strengthening agricultural policy processes, improving agricultural value chains for small-scale producers and enhancing knowledge management capacities for rural development,” says Michael Hailu, Director of CTA. “We are always looking for opportunities to partner with initiatives that empower agricultural and rural communities in ACP countries with the knowledge and skills they need to fight poverty and hunger,” he says.
CTA will be hosting 120 African farmer organisation delegates at GFIA Africa events, which will run in collaboration with some of CTA’s long-standing associate farmer organisations, including the Pan African Farmers Organisation, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, Eastern Africa’s Farmers Federation and the Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organisations of West Africa.
The CTA-hosted events will be focused on helping farmers to commercialise their operations – to help small-holders evolve their farms into small businesses, to help commercial farmers scale up their productions with new technologies and improved access to markets and finance. Sessions will include a Continental Briefing for farmer representative organisations, a Plug & Play Day featuring the latest ICTs used in agriculture, as well as a Hackathon and Taster Sessions for organisations interested in learning more about the applications of social media.
“Through a series of panel discussions and interactive demonstrations, the CTA-hosted sessions will address the challenges and opportunities for agribusiness offered by innovative technologies in Africa,” says Hailu. “Topics will include: climate-resilience agriculture in Africa, demonstrating the potential of ICTs to leapfrog African agriculture, and the role of capacity building, entrepreneurship support and developing young talent.”
GFIA’s African debut in December is being presented by International Events Organiser, Turret Media and will follow a similar format to its international predecessor events held annually in Abu Dhabi. In addition to an international exhibition, the GFIA Africa conference programme includes a powerful mix of multi-national, governmental, academic, not-for-profit and commercial partners.
“The launch of GFIA Africa is driven by a growing commitment from governments in Africa to promote the use of environmentally sustainable innovations agriculture, as a means of increasing agricultural productivity to end poverty,” says Beaumont. “GFIA Africa will bring industry leaders from across the continent together to facilitate conversations and develop strategies to implement real change in agriculture that promotes sustainability, long-term productivity and profitability for all those along the value chain,” he concluded.
GFIA Africa is supported by The Department of Agriculture, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), The KZN Convention Bureau, AGRA, CTA, NEPAD, CAADP, ICRAF, FANRPAN, FARA, SACAU, PAFO and NAFU.
For further information, visit

AECI grows food additives and ingredients business in Africa

Lake Foods, a division of AECI Ltd, recently launched its new state of-the-art production facility in Montagu Gardens, Cape Town.

Poultry industry surges – Zimbabwe

The poultry industry in Zimbabwe grew by 22% in first quarter of 2015, having produced 17mn broiler day-old chicks.
Solomon Zawe, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Poultry Association, expressed optimism about continuing
growth through the second half of the year as well, “The market is looking good. We are quite happy with the fact that the government will import maize from Zambia and that will reduce our production costs in the sense that maize would be cheaper.” He added that the industry was aiming to produce more
than 70mn day-old chicks this year, compared to about 60mn day-old chicks produced last year.
Zawe also pointed to some macroeconomic concerns, saying that the industry was projecting a slower 10% to
15% growth in the second half of the year due to a liquidity crisis and the country’s dormant economy.
Zimbabwe has a combined hatching capacity of 76mn day-old chicks per annum but over the years, cheap
imported chickens have flooded the local market, edging out local producers.Most imports come from South Africa and Brazil. To protect the indigenous producers of chickens, the government had imposed an import duty on chickens in 2012, but it has had little effect on imports whose quantity remains quite high.
The poultry industry in Zimbabwe has transformed from being predominated by large, high-tech operations to including a large number of small production units now. This segment, including indigenous producers in communal areas and in urban backyards, is driving the new poultry industry in the country.

Drop in dairy products, sugar imports in first quarter – Algeria

The import bill of dairy products (powdered milk, butter and cream) and sugar (beet sugar, cane sugar, lactose syrup and solid lactose) dropped during the first five months of 2015.
Dairy product imports amounted to US$ 519.06 million in first five months of 2015 against US$ 840.86 million during the same period in 2014, down by 38.27%, said the Algerian Customs’ National Centre of Data Processing and Statistics (CNIS).
In terms of quantity, Algeria imported 172,940 tonnes between January and May, against 165,567 tonnes during the same period in 2014, up by +4.45%. Sugar import bill totalled US$365. 7 million during the first five months of 2015, against US$403.18 million during the same period a year earlier, down by 9.3%.
In terms of quantity, Algeria imported 847,145 tonnes against 874.035 tonnes during the same period of reference, down by 3.07%.
Between January and May 2015, Algeria’s food imports, which represent 19.23% of the overall imports, amounted to US$ 4.3 billion against US$ 4.7 billion during the same period of 2014, down by 8.65%, said the CNIS.
– Algrie Presse Service

Namibia succeeding with agri-tech infrastructure development

Inaugurated in late January this year, The National Agriculture Technology Centre (NATC) in Rundu is about to start operations soon.
The centre was inaugurated by Agricultural Business Development (AGRIBUSDEV), an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and has been setting up equipment and other machinery, as well as recruiting staff. It will soon offer farm machinery repair services to commercial and communal farmers and also manufacture nuts and bolts. A local engineer, Reinhold Nsinano has been appointed manager and along with other engineers.
The facility was started with the objective of setting up a comprehensive system for farm machinery and equipment management, in order to support farmers. The centre will be involved in repair, maintenance and assembling of agricultural machinery and will also conduct research and development with the aim of manufacturing and creation of new technologies suitable to agriculture in the country.
During the launch event in January, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Murtowa, said: “There is indeed no doubt that, with this centre in operation, farmers will be more appropriately assisted in terms of their precious time and valuable money that they had to spend in travelling long distances to receive those essential services.” He added that AGRIBUSDEV will work closely with other agencies of the ministry to ensure proper coordination and supervision of the centre’s activities and functions.
NATC was set up at the cost of about US$3mn and took 19 months to be built. A similar facility is being constructed at Ongwediva in the Oshana region and is expected to be ready by November this year. –

Mobile app equips farmers with knowledge

A new mobile phone app in Kenya could help farmers by providing information on seeds best suited to the changing climate and growing conditions.
MbeguChoice, meaning seed choice in Swahili, is a free app developed jointly by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, seed companies and Agri Experience, with support from the Kenya Markets Trust.
Philip Leley, an advisor to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, provided the developers technical information and said that the app gives information on special characteristics (of different kinds of seeds) for drought tolerance, and the best altitude and area for growing a particular crop. For instance, if a farmer searches for drought-resistant corn varieties to plant during the rainy season, the app would show the five best kinds of seeds, depending on what area of the country the farmer is in and his altitude.
The database that powers the app has information on more than 200 crop varieties. More than half of Kenya’s population of 44mn owns a mobile phone and the app’s developers expect to have two million users in the next seven months. The developers want to expand the app in the future to keep farmers updated about market information on crop and fertiliser prices as well.
The online database is also available via a website and the project is backed by seed producers who hope it will help increase their business. Officials behind the project say that the project, if successful, could be expanded to other countries as well.
About 80% of land in Kenya is dry, according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme and agriculture employs more than 70% of the country’s population, making the country especially vulnerable to global warming. The success of apps like MbeguChoice could help to dramatically improve living standards. –

AFGRI focuses on grains business, sells poultry business

In a bid to strengthen its focus on the grain business, AFGRI, along with Public Investment Corporation (PIC) of South Africa, has announced the sale of its poultry business
The sale includes AFGRI Poultry as well as the company’s Kinross Animal Feeds Mill. The buyer is AFPO Consortium Proprietary Limited (AFPO), a consortium led by Matome Maponya Investments (Proprietary) Limited, under the government’s Black Economic Empowerment programme.
Chris Venter, CEO of AFGRI, said that the divestiture is in line with a strategic decision to concentrate efforts on its core grain businesses and position the company for growth, saying: “AFGRI’s remaining foods and processing businesses are well aligned to grain commodities.” He also commented on the financial implication, “From a financial perspective the transaction enables AFGRI to reduce its gearing levels, fund priority businesses and reduce overall debt.”
AFGRI Poultry has been renamed Daybreak Farms, and is now owned 54 per cent by AFPO, 36 per cent by the PIC on behalf of its clients and the remaining 10 per cent by employees and management. It processes more than a million birds per week, and the business includes the growing and processing of broilers into fresh as well as frozen whole birds, individually frozen birds and portions. The inclusion of established feed milling operations in the transaction ensures an integrated supply of specialist feeds for the process of growing chickens.
The deal represents a landmark transaction for black ownership in the agriculture sector, and has created the first significant black owned enterprise in this sector. According to Dr. Danial Matjila, CEO of PIC, “This transaction is important in that it enables previously excluded groups of people to participate in the poultry industry. The planned expansion of the operations will contribute to food security, with more jobs created.”—

Kenya Million dollar initiative launched in Kenya

An initiative with the aim of the addressing issues affecting citrus fruit production has been launched. The project, worth millions, will be run by the Nairobi-based International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and its partners, will tackle the twin problems of insect pests and diseases in Kenya and Tanzania.
According to Dr Sunday Ekesi, a researcher at ICIPE, the African citrus triozid (ACT) and the false codling moth (FCM) pose the most serious threat of all the citrus pests in the region, transmitting devastating diseases as well as causing damage to the fruit. Moreover, the excessive use of pesticides to control the pests has had its own negative effects on humans and the environment alike.
“Some of the pesticides used are listed as persistent organic pollutants, leading to rejection of produce in the export market,” Dr Ekesi noted.
One of the key facets of the project will therefore be to identify, develop and test the use of non-synthetic chemical alternatives such as natural, biological options, as well as cross-breeding citrus
fruits with guavas, and assisting farmers to limit pests’ opportunities to reproduce.
Production of citrus fruits in the two East African countries has been in decline in recent years, with the current average annual yields of between four and ten tonnes per hectare (p/ha) standing well below the expected 50 to 75 tonnes p/ha.
According to Ekesi, the poor productivity of the various citrus crops, of which sweet oranges are the most common, has meant that supply cannot keep pace with local demand, resulting in supplementary exports from countries like South Africa and Egypt to cover the difference.
“Currently, somewhere between 5% and 21% of all citrus fruits consumed in Kenya and Tanzania are imported,” said Ekesi.

Nigeria Nestle Nigeria slows capital expenditure

Nestle Nigeria’s chief executive Dharnesh Gordhon expects the firm’s capital expenditure to slow to its lowest level in five years after a currency devaluation dampened customer spending in Africa’s biggest economy.
Gordhon explains that consumers in Africa’s most populous nation were suffering from the devaluation triggered by a sharp drop in the price of oil, Nigeria’s main export. A raging Islamist insurgency in the north had also limited the company’s product distribution plans.
Says Gordhon: “Consumer sentiment is definitely much lower. It’s about the oil price, it’s about the currency, it’s about the uncertainty in the economic climate.
We realise that consumers are finding things tough but at the same time we cannot pass on cost.”
The Nigerian unit of the world’s biggest food group Nestle SA had invested $400 million (R4.7 trillion) over the past six years into its food and cereal business to lift capacity.
He said the firm would spend $200 million (R2.3 trillion) over the next 18 months to maintain growth, such as investing in packaging which currently has to be imported, but would shift its focus to managing costs given the challenges facing the economy.

CEMOI to open chocolate factory in Africa

French chocolate maker CEMOI plans to open a factory in Ivory Coast to target the local and West African market.
“I can confirm that the factory will be ready soon and that we will produce and sell chocolate bars and spreadable products for the local and regional market,” said a senior CEMOI employee in Ivory Coast.
Ivory Coast, where family-owned CEMOI began marketing some of its products in 2013, is one of the fastest
growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Ivory Coast is the world’s top cocoa grower and the second-largest grinding hub behind the Netherlands, but very little shop-ready chocolate is made in the African country and locals mostly eat expensive imported chocolate.
CEMOI buys about 145,000 tonnes of cocoa beans every year and already produces semi-finished chocolate products. –

Fish-farming in urban areas

In his State of Province address Premier of Gauteng David Makhura spoke of stimulating the western
corridor (West Rand) of the Gauteng province as a hub of agriculture and agro-processing, and a
public-private partnership would see the development of aquaculture projects, such as the prawn
farming facility. Food Processing Africa looks at the growing developments of inner-city aquaculture
and the economic effects of these ‘micro fish farms’.
Aquaculture Insight
Aquaculture Insight is a specialist in intensive recirculation systems, combined with the ability to generate results. Being a controlled system, environmental factors can be manipulated to ensure optimal breeding and growing conditions throughout the year ensuring a constant supply of the fish. The company has had numerous system implementations across the country with one of the most successful being an order to manufacture the first of six 15 ton/month Tilapia facilities to be supplied to Russlan Fisheries in Siberia. Plant erection was successful in Siberia and completed during September and October 2012.
Eastern Cape Tilapia
Eastern Cape Tilapia in Port Alfred was started in 2013 and now consists of seven grow-out tunnels, one fry rearing system and one filtration tunnel. There are 14 large, rectangular grow-out tanks – all
self-cleaning – and each stocked with 4 000 red tilapia. Further expansion will include a fish-processing factory as well as feed manufacturing. The scale of water filtration is the key to success. The operation has one large gravityfed filter that uses simple technology.
Gravity-settlement sedimentation tanks remove sediment without any machinery or electrical devices. Flushing is a simple act of opening a valve every day to remove solid waste to a sump, to be disposed later.
The total volume of the filter is far greater than the recommended 30% grow-out volume of 1,29m litres, and could accommodate a reserve capacity if required. Water is supplied from a quarry-fed stream using gravity, as well as from a strong borehole. The set-up is what experts would describe as a good
recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) as it is uncomplicated, user-friendly and well-built.
The Fish Farm
The Fish farm is one of the first innercity community based fish farm systems to be developed in. According to the company representative, “it is one of the few that provides a patented micro fish farm which delivers an asset-based means of production to the urban poor, offering them the ability to participate in the economy of South Africa, in the massive growth industry of fish farming, right where they live, in an inner city environment. The Fish Farm empowers 100 individuals or families to produce four tons each, profitably, right where they live. The result is the same – 400 tons – but more people and communities are involved.”
Design criteria for The Fish Farm requires it to be modular (same design), repeated, lockable, transportable, affordable and profitable. The simple solution was to fit retired 6m and 12m shipping containers with a series of tanks, pumps and filters thereby turning the containers into micro-intensive fish farms.
According to the company water consumption is minimal, “it is similar to a swimming pool – the water circulates through filters and back into the tanks, and if necessary, expelled high-nutrient water goes onto a vegetable garden or through a vegetable aquaponics system.”
Peixe bela vista
A large pond farm 42km from Maputo in southern Mozambique, Peixie bela vista consist of ponds which are 0,5ha in size each. The ponds are filled with male tilapia to avoid advanced breeding in the ponds. A newly-built hatchery uses tunnel technology, hapa nets and biofiltration of the warm water, to allow
year-round breeding. A major strength of the enterprise is that it is combined with an intensive poultry operation, which provides plenty of chicken manure. This is added to the ponds to allow zooplankton
and phytoplankton – natural fish food – to flourish. No commercial pelletised feed is used, and running costs are therefore low.
Additional reporting from Farmers Weekly Aquaculture Insight Phillip Barnard Tel: +27 82 335 8029;;
The Fish Farm Alan Fleming Tel: +27 83 658 8655;;
Eastern Cape Tilapia Tel: +27 84 291 6782;;
Peixe bela vista Tel:;

Sorghum production receives boost in Kenya

The Sorghum Value-Chain Development Consortium (SVCDC) is one of the six pilot projects of Agribusiness Innovation Incubation Consortium (AIIC) in Africa. The Kenyan sorghum based agribusiness incubator was launched in mid-2014 with an express mandate to improve agribusiness education and catalyse the growth of sustainable enterprises for young people, especially agribusiness students and graduates in Africa. The incubator has declared in a statement that it aims to “create strong linkages between universities, research institutions, private and public sectors to ensure that innovative interventions from the incubator consortium are upscaled and disseminated to the end users in a timely and sustainable way.”
SVCDC was founded by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology (JKUAT), Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) initiative, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Agritrace, and Farming Support International (FASI). It is involved in the business of creating agribusiness enterprises in the sorghum value chain in Kenya. The incubator plans to achieve this through training and capacity building, advisory services and technical backup.
According to SVCDC management, the incubator seeks agribusinessminded farmer groups, disadvantaged
groups such as women and youth, and agricultural graduates with potential entrepreneurship skills to start upagribusinesses which it will support.
The incubator is involved in creating agribusiness enterprises in the sorghum value chain: food, feed, fuel and fibre (hence the brand name Sorghum 4F):
• Seed ventures (fibre). Production of quality seeds to fit the different agronomical zones and meet farmers‘ seed requirement for food, feed and fuel sorghum crops.
• Food ventures. The incubator seeks clients that have an interest of producing sorghum based composite and biofortified flours for infants and young children, immuno-compromised people, and the elderly. Products focused on are: snack foods, extruded products, puffed products, flakes, sugar syrup, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and bakery products.
• Feed. In this instance, the not-for-profit
organisation is specifically looking for fodder, fortified feeds, crushed grains, spent syrup, pellets, bagasse or stover producers which be used in the poultry, dairy, beef, aqua and pet feed markets.
• Biofuel ventures. Ventures for sweet sorghum syrup, bioethanol, biofertilizer, carbon dioxide and charcoal briquette are sought.
The incubator, as part of its developmental nature, provides the chosen clients with training and capacity building along with facilitation of access to parental seed material, seed production skills and seed certification process (in the case of seed ventureclients). Moreover it aids the client with
the establishment of a seed processing plant, packing, branding and marketing.
For food and feed venture clients, it offers a database of commercially viable technologies, scientific support for production and testing, infrastructure, mentoring and advisory services. Says the NFP: “It is important for ventures to receive the necessary business funding and facilitations, scientific support and technical consultancy and insight into the market they are entering. As SVDC we are able to provide them with that and more. Specifically in the case of biofuel ventures, we should be able to expose the client to commercially viable technologies and what they offer.”
Speaking of the establishment of such an incubator, the Principal Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Sicily Kariuki, said: “The government plays a central role in value chain development
targeted at specific crops such as sorghum as avenues for food security promotion and improving farmers’
The Sorghum Value-Chain Development Consortium SVCDC:

Fast tracking agricultural transformation in Africa can be accomplished by:
• Agribusiness promotion through agribusiness incubation
• Tertiary agribusiness education and research
• Linkages and strategic engagement of private sector
• Mobile phone technology usage.

The most recent sustainable developments around Africa

Solar energy, like other types of energy, can be harnessed and used to create electricity. It is free and completely natural, so it is considered a clean energy source. Over the years, man has continued to develop ways of harnessing this vital resource and convert it to usable energy. Wind energy is also a
form of solar energy.
Other sources of power such as coal and natural gas require water to generate power – a scarce commodity in many parts of Africa. Solar panels do not require this, nor do they require an adequate
power grid, making them suited to African conditions.
Africa’s population is set to double to approximately two billion by 2050; the demand for power will only continue to grow. With this in mind, we take a look at completed projects – and some currently underway in Africa.
Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (Kenya)
The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWP) aims to provide 300MW of reliable, low cost wind power to Kenya’s national grid.
This is equivalent to about 20% of Kenya’s current installed electricity generating capacity.
By late last year, the LTWP team had completed a complex financingpackage which entailed the signing of an agreement between the Kenyan government, national network operator the Kenya Electricity Transmission
Company Ltd (Ketraco), and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The project is of significant strategic benefit to Kenya.
It is an estimated KES76 billion (€623 million, R969 billion) project which will make it the largest private investment in Kenyan history – as well as Africa’s largest wind farm.
The LTWP team hopes to begin generating power as early as 2017.
The wind farm site is expected to cover 40,000 acres (162km2) of desert. It will be located in the Loyangalani district, in northeast Kenya.
The project will comprise 365 wind turbines (each with a capacity of 850kW),the associated overhead electric grid collection system, and a high voltage substation. It will also include upgrading of the existing road from Laisamis to the wind farm, a distance of 204km, as well as an access road network in and around the site for construction, operations and maintenance.
Ketraco, with concessional funding from the Spanish Government, is constructing a double circuit 400kv,
428km transmission line to deliver the LTWP electricity, along with power from other future plants, to the national grid.
The power produced will be bought at a fixed price by Kenya Power (KPLC) over a 20-year period, in accordance with the signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
The Ashegoda, Adama I and Adama II wind farms (Ethiopia)
The 120 MW Ashegoda wind farm in Ethiopia officially went live late in 2013. It is located about 18km outside the city of Mekelle in Tigray state. It consists of 84 high-tech turbines and is expected to produce around 400 million kWh a year.
The project,announced in 2008, has been constructed over the last few years in stages.
When the first stage of the wind farm went live, it was the first of its kind in Ethiopia.
This project was funded by the French bank BNP Paribas, the French Development Agency (ADF), and the
Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo). EEPCo has been responsible for managing the site.
Ashegoda is the second windiest place in Ethiopia, after Adama (Nazreth) – with average annual wind speeds of 8.5 m/s and 9.4 m/ , respectively (at a height of 40m above ground level).
Two smaller wind farms were also built near Adama, south-east of Addis Ababa, with capacity of 51MW each.
Adama I. The Adama I wind power plant was inaugurated on 1 December, 2012. The total cost of this project was $117 million (R1. 3 billion). The Chinese government funded 85% of the project while the balance was provided by the Ethiopian government. The project comprises 34 towers, each generating
1.5 MW.
Adama II.Adama II is an extension of the Adama I wind farm. Adama II is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in June this year. The generating capacity for this plant is 153MW. The project’s estimated cost is $340 million (R4 billion)
An Ethiopian business portal states that the project is connected to a 230 kV grid with 13km of transmission via the Koka substation. The substation is close to the major industrial centres of Adama,
Mojo, Debre Zeit, Dukem and Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia has so far managed to generate a total of 171MW of power from the Adama and Ashegoda wind farms. The two farms have installed capacity of 51MW and 120MW respectively. When Adama II starts
generating power in its full capacity it is expected to take the country’s wind power generation to a total of 324MW, according to
The Nzema solar photovoltaic project (Ghana)
The Nzema solar photovoltaic plant is under construction, scheduled for completion in October 2016.
The 155MW PV plant will comprise more than 630,000 individual panels. Its output should be enough to power 100,000 Ghanaian homes, covering182 hectares in the Western region of the country.
Nzema is expected to create 200 permanent jobs for Ghanaians. More reliable power thanks to the plant could create 2,100 more jobs throughout the economy, it is estimated. said the project will add 5.5% to Ghana’s current total electricity generation capacity.
Says the website: “It will get the country 20% of the way to the 2020 goal set by the country’s 2011 Renewable Energy Act – to source 10% of its total energy from renewable sources.”
Ghana wants to increase its electricity generation from 2,846MW to 5,000MW by 2016.
Mere Power Nzema Limited (MPNL), a subsidiary of UK-based renewable energy consortium Mere Power UK and Blue Energy, will oversee the estimated $400 million (R4.7 billion) project. says when sunlight strikes a photovoltaic panel, it generates direct current (DC) electricity, which is then converted into alternating current (AC) for transmission by an inverter.
Photovoltaics are cheaper and more flexible than concentrated solar power, an alternate technique that requires an array of mirrors and a turbine. Photovoltaics also not require a source of water, and can
even generate electricity on cloudy days.
A disadvantage of the photovoltaic method is that the power captured cannot yet be stored economically. Since Ghana is short of power, however, the electricity generated will be injected directly into the grid, making this less of an issue, it says.
The Kathu Solar Park and Redstone Solar Thermal Power
South Africa’s Department of Energy had recently announced that two new concentrating solar power (CSP) plants will be built in SA’s Northern Cape.
The Kathu Solar Park and Redstone Thermal Power project will both have 100MW capacity. They are part of the third round of the SA government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme
Backing the Kathu project is a consortium led by GDF SUEZ. The consortium consists of the Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust, Investec Bank, Lereko Metier and the Public Investment Corporation.
The Redstone Solar Thermal Power Project will be located near Postmasburg in the Northern Cape Province. It will be adjacent to the 75MW Lesedi and 96MW Jasper photovoltaic (PV) solar power projects.
“Together, the three projects will deliver 271MW of peak generation, enough to power more than 350,000
South African homes,” says Mary Grikas vice president of communications at SolarReserve.
She adds that the Redstone project brings additional value to SA because of“the introduction of SolarReserve’s world-leading molten salt energy storage technology — delivering the lowestpriced electricity from Concentrating Solar Power in the country to date.”
This plant is expected to produce 480,000MW annually. Furthermore, it is expected to power more than 200,000 homes during peak demand, day and night.
The Redstone project has the support of SolarReserve, an international company for Water and Power projects (ACWA Power) and a Saudi water and power developer.;;;; ;;
SolarReserve: Tel +27 11 582 6880;
Brief explanations on the various power sources:
Photovoltaics (PV) – a technology that converts sunlight into electricity. A photovoltaic system comprises solar panels that are composed of a number of solar cells, to supply power that is usable (electricity).
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies – use mirrors to focus the sun’s light energy and convert
it into heat to create steam to drive turbines that generate electrical power.
Wind power –produced using wind generators which harness the kinetic energy of wind. This type of energy production has gained wide popularity.

The potato journey

South Africans are keen consumers of potatoes in various dishes. A report by Potatoes SA says 2.2 million tons of potatoes are produced in South Africa annually, mostly from the Western Free State and Limpopo provinces. Japie Engelbrecht, potato supply Manager at McCain, one of South Africa’s largest frozen food suppliers, explains the changing face of the potato business to Kgaogelo Mamabolo-Letsebe.
McCain, as one of the top cultivators of potatoes internationally, works closely with developing farmers to ensure that the highest quality of potatoes reach consumers. Says Engelbrecht: “We are involved from seed to final product.
Planning of varieties and volumes takes 5–7 years. Post-harvest (just before winter) we store the potatoes into our storage facilities for five months.
Depending on the cultivar of the potato, it may take longer or less time. There are numerous cultivars with different growth patterns and periods as well as eating quality. Diverse cultivars also result in
potatoes with different colours, textures and flavours.”
McCain has a number of top commercial farmers who produce exclusively for the company. They only plant seeds that have been certified by the South African Seed Potato Certification Scheme. Engelbrecht explains that this is a form of insurance on quality standards, “Being actively involved with farmers assures us that we are able to provide our consumers with the best. At present we support two emerging farm operations in Soekmekaar in the Limpopo region. The projects started in 2004 and each is about 200h/
m². We have invested R80–R100,000 per year in each of these projects. In the agreement, we as McCain assign one of our skilled farm managers to implement necessary systems and support them through their first two years; we also assist them to make a profit in their first and second years. The farm then
harvests exclusively for us. After three to five years of support, we leave the self-sufficient farm to
empower the community.”
Engelbrecht says the current drought in some of South Africa provinces will have little to no effect as
harvesting was months prior to the drought.
According to a market report from Potatoes SA, more than 35,000 hectares have already been planted for the 2015 potato season. Says André Jooste, chief executive officer of Potatoes SA:“Compared to the same time last year about 2,000 hectares more have been planted. Rainfall with accompanying high temperatures increases decay and can result in downward pressure on prices until end-March/early-April. Alternatively rainfall may also result in an upward movement in prices,if producers cannot lift potatoes. On a brighter side the lower temperatures may improve the quality of potatoes if farmers can lift in time.”
Jooste also says that in January-March prices are always under pressure due to a number of reasons. “Supply of potatoes tends to increase from January to March, resulting in lower prices. Poor lasting quality is another factor. Thirdly, dry land potatoes (Eastern Free State start lifting potatoes) versus irrigated potatoes to markets. Producers in new regions are selling more potatoes directly, meaning that the buyers now buy from the farm, not the market at a lower price. A second last factor could be poor consumer spending after the festive season. Lastly and most importantly, ’skin finish‘ is important to South Africans.”
Potato facts
• The starch in potatoes is a mixture of two different kinds: amylose and amylopectin, each with its own distinct properties.
• The South African Potato Council developed Potatolite seeds of the new cultivar – naming it Solanoakes Tubarosum.
• Potato seeds can be cold stored for up to nine months.
• Approximately 10,000 hectares are annually registered for seed potato production in terms of the South African Seed Potato Certification Scheme.
Engelbrecht confirms that consumers increasingly demand potatoes with clean, attractive skins.
South African consumers prefer a lighter coloured chip compared to the European consumer. As a result, South African frozen chips are truly “the perfect chip” with limited defects or original shapes (which often leads to consumers questioning whether frozen potato chips are made from real potatoes). Says
Engelbrecht: “Usually when one says we serve processed potatoes, the first thought in consumers minds is that the potatoes have chemicals in them. We however have numerous operations that ensure that the potatoes are of high quality. Chemicals are used within the barriers of the law. For instance, we peel
by steam so as to avoid abuse of the potato, we use no fluorescents when storing potatoes, and we avoid
bruised produce.”
Furthermore, McCain assists consumers to make a suitable choice of cultivar that will perform according
to their expectations. There is a potato classification system which is used to categorise potatoes according to their eating quality. The categories included in this system focus on: boiling, roasting,
frying, chipping (oven bake), microwave and mash.
“I strongly believe that we at McCain have a better understand of consumer as we are hands-on with our market and potato farmers,” concludes Engelbrecht.

Trend alert
Introducing the Potatolite carbohydrate free potatoes
The South African Potato Council has launched the first carb-free potato in the world. Since the dawn of
the low-carb health and diet craze, people wanting to lose weight have been avoiding starches, including
the humble potato. As a result, South Africa has seen approximately R20 million lower potato sales over the last three years. Potatoes, arguably the most popular of all carbohydrate-rich foods and a ‘natural’ carb, has been shunned (along with pasta and bread) as one 100g potato contains about 17g of carbohydrates.
Spokesperson for the Potato Council, Mebeko Thokola, says the industry had no choice but to be creative: “We had little choice but to sink or swim. With over R20 million loss in sales from potatoes quarter-onquarter, we had to either cut our business or re-invent the potato.” Scientists at the Council set out to evaluate the nutritional content of three different potato cultivar classification categories and
found that one cultivar in particular, the Russet potato, had a DNA profile that allowed its starch content to be modified during cooking, significantly lowering even completely destroying its total carbohydrate content.
The scientists, who worked with the Pretoria University of Technology, looked into how they could separate the two kinds of starch using expansive processes in the hope that by separating them they could genetically modify them and thereby reduce the starch content.
Once they had isolated the starches, they prepared them in a variety of ways – boiling, frying and grilling. All three heat processes significantly reduced the starch content of the potatoes, but it was
the total destruction of amylopectin that had the greatest de-carbing effect on the tuber.
“The problem was that we were left with very little in terms of a food product to eat,” says Gerrie Vister, chief scientist on the project. “So we spliced the amylopectin’s genes with different low-carb
but fibre-rich vegetables such as cauliflower and asparagus.
By combining the fibrous molecules of these vegetable with that of the de-carbed Russet potato, we were able to create a new vegetable that not only tastes almost exactly like a potato but has virtually no carbohydrates.
It took us two years to refine. We employed the common technique of back crossbreeding. In a nutshell,
transgenic plants are crossed with elite breeding lines using traditional plant breeding methods to combine the desired traits of elite parents and the transgene into a single line.”
Potatolite now reportedly has only 1g of carbohydrate per 100g, making it attractive to people on
low-carbohydrate diets.
– Health24

Zimbabwe reports hike in poultry production

The Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA) has reported a 22% year-on-year rise in poultry production. According to the latest report by the association claimed the total number of chicks produced in the southern African country rose by 14mn between 2013 and 2014 – from 64.4mn to 78.4mn.The report also posited that, while upscale broiler sector meat production remained largely the same, at 2,690 metric tonnes (mt) per month, the total meat production from day-old chicks is estimated to have increased by 24% to 11,000mt per month. “The increase is attributed to the growth in the smallholder sector which is estimated to account for more than 70 per cent of total chick sales,” explained ZPA chairman Solomon Zawe. The increase in poultry production was also driving growth in the stock feed sector, Zawe said, with 71% of the 38,500 tonnes of feed produced per month in Zimbabwe in 2014 being used for poultry. “The poultry industry is now estimated to consume 14,400mt soya beans and 20,700mt maize per month,” Zawe stated. –

Food and beverage industry awaits impact of food regulations on non-nutritive sweeteners

The South African food sweetener market, which includes sugar, polyols and non-nutritive sweeteners, is at a crucial inflection point in its growth trajectory. The market is dominated by sugar, when analysed in terms of volume, and sugar consumption continues to grow in line with the country’s gross domestic product and population expansion. However, sugar could slowly lose ground to sugar substitutes, especially non-nutritive sweeteners, owing to health concerns, such as obesity and non-communicable diseases. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Analysis of the South African Food Sweetener Market (, finds that despite South Africa’s high per capita sugar consumption, sugar production is slower than the rest of Africa and is set to wane. Higher production capacity than is currently needed for the domestic market in South Africa; however, offers scope for export. Says Frost & Sullivan Chemicals, Materials and Food Senior Industry Analyst Carolyn Krynauw: “The demand for sugar, at present, remains steady as consumers favour the sweet taste that it provides. While the sugar-free trend has also led to an increase in the use of non-nutritive sweeteners, the government is looking to limit the dependence of the food and beverage industry on such sweeteners.” Regulations proposed by the South African Department of Health have created a wave of uncertainty in the non-nutritive sweetener segment, which could affect profits. As a result, this is driving manufacturers to return to sugar while the search is on for new, more natural sweeteners.

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