CAMC gives Zimbabwean agriculture a lifeline

China CAMC Engineering has announced plans to revive operations at Arda Mushumbi Pools Estate with a US$200mn investment. According to reports, the estate in Mashonaland Central region will get the money over the next five years, and the funding will be used to develop irrigation. The Chinese company had sealed a deal with Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) to resuscitate the estate, but the deal is subject to approval by the country’s government through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
Wang Kailong, country representative for Zimbabwe at China CAMC Engineering, said that his company was committed to helping the revival of agriculture in Zimbabwe, and that it had wanted to build a dam at Arda Mushumbi Pools that would irrigate about 1,000 ha.
He added that China CAMC Engineering would also set up a cotton ginnery and a fruit canning plant at Mushumbi. “We have already signed a contract with ARDA for us to build a dam, a cotton ginnery and a fruit canning plant at Mushumbi Pools,” he added. “The dam that we intend to build will also have the capacity to generate about 15MW of electricity that will provide power to the ginnery and canning plant that we want to set up at Mushumbi Pools.” Kailong added that the company is sourcing money for the project from Chinese banks. China CAMC Engineering has already supplied Zimbabwe with agricultural machinery such as tractors, combine harvesters and other implements worth about US$58mn since 2002.— www.africanfarming.net



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
– www.Africanfarming.net



Burera livestock farmers upbeat over new milk plant – Rwanda

Livestock keepers in Burera district, Rwanda, are upbeat as a new milk factorynears completion. According to officials in the region the factory is owned by Burera Dairy Ltd and is being constructed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry through Business Development Fund at a cost of Rwf 700m (US$ 961 828).
The factory is expected to produce cheese, yoghurt and butter, among other products. The project is one of the small and medium industry promotions being undertaken by the Trade Ministry to promote value addition across the country. Locals welcomed the factory, saying it offers timely answers to farmers who have previously complained about lack of market for their milk.
Gedeon Cyambaza, president of Burera Diary Company board, added that the factory will add more value to milk production and that farmers will now be able to sell their milk at collection centres from where it will be picked for processing.
Said Gedeon; “Once the factory is operational it will provide a ready market to farmers and area residents will be able to get other milk products close to them.”
– www.allafrica.com



Anchor joins Ethiopian dairy market – Ethiopia

Anchor, New Zealand’s leading milk brand, has begun producing fortified milk drink in Ethiopia. The company launched its first nationwide Anchor fortified milk drink earlier this month.
According to State industry Minister Dr Mebratu Meles, enabling Anchor fortified milk drink to begin production as the first-ever milk powder dry blending plant in Ethiopia would play a significant role in the national goal of ending child malnutrition by 2030. He said: “The beginning of Anchor milk production in Ethiopia will add great impetus to the nation’s vision of transforming the agriculture led economy to an industry led one in the shortest time possible. The government of Ethiopia has been formulating and adopting various policies and strategies aimed at attracting local and foreign investors who wish to get involved in such agroprocessing industries. Moreover, the government has established Ethiopian Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute in a bid to exploit the country’s potentials in this regard.”
New Zealand Milk Products General Manager for Ethiopia, Zeco Kassim, said that one glass of Anchor’s Fortified Milk Drink contains more than 30 nutrients essential for a child’s growth and development, including protein, calcium, vitamins A and D, iron and zinc.
New Zealand Milk Products Ethiopia is a joint venture between local partner Faffa Foods and New Zealand Dairy Cooperative Fonterra, which is the world’s largest dairy exporter.– The Herald Ethiopi



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 – www.africanfarming.net



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.



Rain water harvesting for farmers

South Africa is a particularly water scarce country, leaving it in a perilous position when met by drought like in recent months. A viable solution to help save water and aid dams the opportunity to refill themselves and recover, is through rain water harvesting.
Water tanks are self-sufficient and made to work with the environment. Rainwater tanks are a fundamental invention and have been used for many years. In today’s times, water tanks continue to benefit farmers and various other industries as well as for domestic use. According to many a research study, rainwater has proven to be naturally clean and chemical free. In the instance of farmers, water for irrigation is a luxury in times of drought and in traditionally dry areas. By saving and storing water during the rainy season one can provide much needed irrigation for land when the seasons change.
South African based Roto Tank produces polyethylene tanks which are ideal for rainwater harvesting. According to the company these polyethylene tanks are lighter than the stainless steel alternative, making them easier to transport and unaffected by corrosion and rust, which may render water unusable in certain circumstances.
Furthermore, Roto Tank has introduced a combination of water tanks and troughs for efficiency. Water troughs, have a variety of uses on the farm and can work in conjunction with water tanks for optimum results. Says Roto Tank: “Many farmers make use of rainwater harvesting methods in order to save on water expenses. Water collects into various water tanks during rainfall. Farms in general consist of hectares of land and farmers harvest water by making use of water tanks fitted to a trough at the bottom tank that will allow water to be available for animals to drink. Some of our troughs can hold more than 800 litres of water at a time. Moreover water can also be treated with nutrients and medication and used in a livestock water trough. Various animals can drink from the trough including horses and ostrich.
The ball valves present in the water tank and trough will ensure that water levels remain constant. The ball valves are tamper proof and secure from any potential damage caused by livestock.”
Jojo Tanks, a world renowned manufacturer of water tanks, encourages rain-water harvesting for both domestic and farm use. Rod Cairns, managing director of JoJo Tanks, believes that a water-secure world is a joint responsibility and that every South African should invest in some sort of system to save water, “We live in a relatively dry country, with an average annual rainfall of about 464mm (compared to a world average of about 860mm). Furthermore, rain tends to be concentrated in certain areas and does not fall consistently throughout the year. These facts, combined with increasing pressures on water resources and infrastructures in South Africa and worldwide, indicate that there may simply not be enough water to meet our future needs and the need to save water will be forced upon us. We need to think of rainwater harvesting as part of a sustainable water strategy.” Cairns explains that Jojo tanks are UV resistant enabling the product to ‘outlive’ some of the harshest South African weather conditions. The company also offers custom moulding solutions, colours and sizes to meet every customer specific requirement. “All JoJo water tanks are lined with a black food safety accredited lining material that inhibits the growth of algae,” concludes Cairns
Jojo Tanks Tel: +27 13 – 262 7900; www.jojotanks.co.za
Roto Tank Tel: +27 12 376-1070/2; roto@mweb.co.za; www.rototank.co.za



Cheese in Africa

Euromonitor International’s global cheese research in Africa focuses on four key markets: South Africa,
Nigeria, Kenya and Cameroon.Food Processing Africa reviews the data and trends in these four countries.
South Africa
The latest trend report for South Africa says there is a growing prevalence of fixed weight packaging of hard cheeses in that country.
“Consumers can purchase cheese at a fixed price, making it easier and more convenient to budget for the
product, which is considered a luxury item by many.”
The retail value and volume growth of cheese in the country was higher in 2014 than other previous years.
According to the report, the overall category experienced price increases. To an extent, promotional pricing offers were used to counteract these increases. These promotions boosted the volume of sales.
Due to high maize prices and a weakening rand, the costs of animal feeds increased during 2014. Lacklustre market conditions also had a negative effect on farm productivity.
According to Euromonitor, inflationary costs will work through to raise consumer food inflation this year.
Parmalat SA launched Parmalat’s cheese strings on the South African market – unspreadable processed cheese which previously sold in slices. Other manufacturers are expected to copy this product.
“It is a convenient format, and children may enjoy the different format compared to the Melrose Wedge brand of processed cheese,” says the report.
Cream cheese accounted for a 68% value share of spreadable processed cheese sales last year. In the review period, retailers gave this type of cheese more shelf space, which resulted in a rise of this format. Leading brands include Simonsberg and Melrose (both Parmalat SA), Cream Cheese (Lancewood Holdings) and Philadelphia (Kraft Foods South Africa).
With the growth of cream cheese, Euromonitor notes that there has been a substantial increase in flavour variants, making it one of the most sophisticated categories in the broader cheese category.
Cheese headlines of 2014 – Nigeria
• Cheese current value growth of 7% was to reach NGN 0.6bn (US$3011298.0000).
• Increased usage of cheese in snacks and growth in sales was beneficial to the category.
• Only unspreadable processed cheese had been present in significant quantities.
• The average unit price of cheese increased moderately in 2014.
• The cheese market was fragmented, with no player taking the lead in sales.
• Over the forecast period cheese was expected to see a negligible positive value Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) at constant 2014 prices.According to the report, even private label brands such as Pick n Pay offer varieties such as sweet chilli or smoked salmon in addition to the more traditional cream cheese (for instance, with spring onion).
The most popular type of unprocessed cheese in SA is cheddar, followed by mozzarella and gouda. Consumers
apparently prefer the taste of cheddar – a traditional flavour. “It is also considered an entry point into cheese. Consumers tend to try cheddar before trying other types of cheese. Gouda is popular for the same reason, although it carries a slightly higher unit price than cheddar.
Mozzarella is popular as a melted cheese topping due to both its format, and ‘lighter’ taste profile.”
Nigeria:
Cheese is a niche category in Nigeria. Euromonitor’s report says although Nigerians consume lots of unpackaged local cheese such as “wara” in the southwest Nigeria, packaged cheese is not popular.
“The main consumer base (for packaged cheeses) is expatriates,” the report says.
The main growth driver of cheese in the country is its presence in retail outlets such as supermarkets, hypermarkets and independent small grocers, which increasingly stock Western-style products.
Growth is thus in line with urbanisation. A key trend likely to benefit the sales of Western-style cheeses is the sudden strong increase in the usage of cheese within sweet and savoury snacks in Nigeria and the strong growth of pizza takeaway chains in the country.
The vast majority of cheeses were sold in supermarkets and hypermarkets which last accounted for an estimated 88% share of retail sales value; the remainder came from sales through independent small grocers.
Kenya:
The Kenya report says consumption of cheese is growing there, particularly among the rising number of middle income consumers.This is attributed to changing cultures in many households “… as they adopt more western ways of life”.
The report also relates the rising numbers to a rising number of Western expatriates who settle in the country. “In addition, the increasing prevalence of international travel among the Kenyan population also means more exposure to Western foodstuffs and dishes.”
An important factor of growth in the cheese sector is an increasing availability of more varieties. This is combined with the growth in consumer knowledge of the uses and consumption occasions for different cheeses. These factors all contribute to the positive growth of cheese sales.
The average unit price of cheese was expected to continue increasing last year as a result of the rising cost of numerous inputs and ingredients for cheese, notably milk.
The most popular retail distribution channels remain the country’s supermarkets and hypermarkets. Combined, these accounted for 45% of total cheese retail sales by value in the country during the year.
“In order to generate a greater awareness of cheese, leading manufacturers such as Browns Cheese Factory hosts regular lunchtime cheese tasting events at its factory. It also collaborates with local hotels to conduct wine and cheese tasting events, all in a bid to foster the appreciation of cheese and obtain feedback on their products from local consumers.”
Cameroon:
Euromonitor says that cheese is not particularly popular in this African country. Most cheese purchases there are by expatriates in Cameroon from European countries, it says.
“Some brands, however, such as La Vache Qui Rit, have succeeded in immersing themselves into local
consumption habits. However, most people still prefer butter, margarine, chocolate and honey as spread products.”
The value growth during 2014 was expected to be 5% – mostly attributed to the growing popularity of one specific brand – La Vache Qui Rit. The fastest value growth of 6% in the country was expected from unspreadable processed cheese.
The report says that the growing expatriate community finds cheese products in certain supermarkets which
cater for their tastes. No cheeses are manufactured locally; all are imported from other countries,
mainly France.
Consumers buy mostly packaged cheese in Cameroon. It is recognisable because of the packaging which
consumers are familiar with, according to Euromonitor.
Spreadable cheese is gaining popularity. Spreadable cheese is considered to be a substitute for butter,
and considered a treat because of its slightly higher price tag and its silver packaging. Mostly bought from supermarkets, cheese had been expected to account for a 51% value share of spreadable cheese last year.
Euromonitor International:
Tel +27 21 524 3000; www.euromonitor.com



Do you have time to be let down?

Of course you don’t. Time is one commodity the working world is always short on.
According to a survey done on working professionals in five countries, South Africans spend the
most time at the office, with an average of 9.5 hour work days. That’s a 47.5 hour work week. With statistics like that it’s not surprising that as many as 88% of employees have a hard time juggling work and play. As a result, it’s not uncommon to experience chronic fatigue and exhaustion in today’s working culture.
With this in mind, Wayne understands that their customers need a company they can trust and rely on.
A quality product alone is no longer good enough, it’s the entire customer experience, from start to finish that really matters.
Wayne are dedicated to establishing strong relationships with their customers through an understanding of their individual needs, adopting a flexible approach and degree of personal contact. They’ve improved the areas of their business that are important to you, even the aspects you don’t think about. It’s these aspects that are often unnoticed,until something goes wrong.
Furthermore, Wayne have made selecting gumboots simpler than ever with a new user-friendly catalogue and
website. With Wayne you get so much more than just a good pair of gumboots.
Rest assured, they’ve taken care of almost everything, allowing you to concentrate on what you do best.
Wayne, your symbol of confidence.



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.
Challenges
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.”
www.goodfruit.com; www.grainsa.co.za

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.
– www.goodfruit.com



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; www.emeaifc.org ; www.smesouthafrica.co.za
The Land Bank: Tel +27 12 686 0500;www.landbank.co.zaw
National Empowerment Fund: Tel +27 11 305 8000; www.netcorp.co.za
Independent Development Trust (IDC): Tel +27 12 845 2000; www.idt.org.za
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform: www.ruraldevelopment.gov.za
Micro Agricultural Finance Institutions of SA (MAFISA): Tel +27 12 319 7295;www.daff.gov.za
Department of Trade and Industry: Tel +27 12 394 5792; www.thedti.gov.za



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;www3.syngenta.com



Tapping into Africa’s drinks

According to a research report published by Canadean, total consumption of non-alcoholic beverages in Africa in 2013 was 51,559 million litres. Africa has a population of approximately 1.2 billion people and a rapidly expanding middle class will reach 128 million by 2020; resulting in many more consumers with disposable income to spend on discretionary products and services. Food Processing Africa explores the latest beverage and beverage manufacturing facilities launches all over the continent.
Big players
SABMiller Namibia, which previously imported all its beer from neighbouring South Africa, recently opened a newly constructed $33.3 million (R446m), 260,000 hectolitre brewery in Okahandja city, 70km north of Windhoek. The brewery which is modelled on global best practice, is one of SABMiller’s most efficient and environmentally-friendly breweries of its size in the world.
Cobus Bruwer, MD of SABMiller Namibia, says its investments in Namibia,aligns with the government’s Vision 2030 of an industrial nation, “This is a seminal occasion for SABMiller in Namibia and represents the latest investment by the company in the African growth story. Not only will the brewery produce fantastic tasting beers, it will also contribute to the creation of a vibrant local manufacturing sector. This will in turn allow us to accelerate the emergence of small and medium sized Namibian businesses which are so important to the life blood of the economy and help create a growing population of skilled employees by supporting education and providing training.”
According to the brewery, 30 million non-returnable glass bottles have been replaced by returnable bottles since work began at new premises, while cardboard packaging previously used has been replaced with re-usable plastic crates. Says Bruwer: “This, as well as minimised transport requirements due to local production and distribution, has significantly reduced landfill and carbon emissions. In addition, the brewery plans to use 3.25 litres of water per litre of beer in the brewing process – just below SABMiller’s worldwide average of 3.3 litres per litre of beer.”
Bruwer says investments across the African continent underline SABMiller ‘s belief in the continent.
Speaking to the Financial Mail (February 2015) Coca-Cola Eurasia & Africa president, Nathan Kalumbu, supported this view, stating that having Coke products within arm’s reach of desire is an ongoing challenge as markets in Africa continue to grow: “We continue to see a number of societal trends in Africa — improved infrastructure, greater education, positive demographics and increased urbanisation — that represent growth opportunities for Coca-Cola. The region already accounts for about 10% of Coca-Cola’s total revenue and volume, and we expect this to double in less than six years.”
Coca-Cola has most recently injected $17bn (R227bn) in investment in the continent. Along with community focused projects, Coca-Cola is launching an initiative called Source Africa to get its product ingredients locally. The company will also pump money into new manufacturing lines, cooling and distribution equipment and production.
The poor quality of drinking water in both rural and urban areas in some African countries has led to consumers spending more on bottled water, soft drinks and juices. At present Coca-Cola bottlers in West Africa make its products from concentrate derived from a French unit, while a plant in Swaziland provides concentrate to bottlers in the rest of Africa.
Coca-Cola is furthermore cementing its footprint in Africa with the forthcoming merging of its Southern and East Africa bottlers, allowing a leaner expansion with the pooling of resources and manufacturing, distribution and marketing capability across the region.
According to the company, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), headquartered in South Africa, will be the largest Coca-Cola bottler in Africa and 10th biggest in the world. This will happen when SABMiller (owner of ABI, which already bottles 55% of Coca-Cola’s volumes in South Africa) and Gutsche Family Investments (which controls Sabco, a Coca-Cola bottler for the past 74 years) combine their soft drinks operations, following a deal announced in 2014.
Serving 12 countries and accounting for over 40% of all Coca-Cola beverage volumes on the continent, the new entity is expected to have revenues of $2,9bn (R38,8bn) and a 17% operating margin.
Industry entrants
A relatively new player in the beverage market is Cape Town based Breva Bev Co, a subsidiary of Bumi Hills Group, which has launched a malt-based drink for non-alcohol drinkers. According to the company, there is a growing demand for alcohol-free malt drinks. The sector has hitherto been dominated by international alcohol companies like Becks and Bavaria.
Says Breva Bevs’ Gladys Mawoneke in a statement, “We have a huge emerging middle class in South Africa that does not drink alcohol. Because of their disposable income they seek a drink that they can drink comfortably as adults when they are out and about and when they are at home – a drink that talks to their image and that they can use to ‘badge’. Containing neither hops nor fermented barley malt, it does not undergo any fermentation process. It somewhat taps into a glamorous image and globalised lifestyle that neither juice nor teas nor colas can offer.”
Manufactured and bottled in Wellington, Cape Town, Breva is packaged in a green flint bottle with a twist-off crown closure. It comes in four flavours that blend well with malt – Passion Fruit, Apple, Peach and Pineapple.
Late in 2014, Namibia Breweries launched Vigo, a premium malt based cooler described as “an invigorating, lightly sparkling soft drink available in two flavours: Marula, which has a sweet-sour, fruity taste, and Wild Orange, which is also known as monkey orange – grapefruit-sized fruits which have a distinctive fresh citrus taste. Namibia Breweries agrees that there is a demand for such beverages: “the launch is in response to the global consumer thirst for a premium malt based beverage option. It is also in keeping with the move towards non-alcohol refreshment, especially for those who are driving, and is an alternative to soft drinks for more sophisticated palates.”
Innovation
Keeping within the theme of nonalcoholic frothy drinks, Naturex, an international group specialising in natural ingredients, has developed a natural, sustainable and innovative ingredient, UPtaia, which creates foam/froth in non-alcoholic beverages.
“UPtaia is sustainably wild harvested in a 800,000ha Chilean quillaia forest and works in such a manner that it improves the stability of the foam and the cling effect, which then helps the manufacturer to create delicious frothy drinks that consumers love. It is also a great alternative for replacing non-natural solutions like propylene glycol alginates. The level of foam obtained is proportional to the amount of UPtaia in the drink. The optimal usage level, between 40 and 200ppm, will depend on the height of foam expected.”
Taking it a step further, global producer, marketer and provider of technology-based natural ingredients, Döhler recently launched a portfolio of gluten-free malt extracts made from barley. Says the company: “The increasing demand for gluten-free products around the world is presenting the food and beverage industry with new opportunities and challenges. According to our in-house market research, in 2013 alone, over 7,000 new products labelled ’glutenfree‘ were introduced to the global food and beverages market. Through market research and trend spotting across the globe, Döhler detected this trend in its early stages and has conducted intensive research on a new generation of malt ingredients.”
Concluded the company: “We provide both the food and beverage industries with application-specific, gluten-free malt extracts that can be used as specific flavour components and as natural ingredients for a variety of products for natural colouring and sweetening.”
SABMiller: Tel +27 11 881 8492; www.sabmiller.com
Coca-Cola Eurasia & Africa:Tel +27 +27 11 644 0666; www.cocacola.co.za
Breva Bev Co: Tel +27 21 434 3887; www.breva.co.za
Naturex: Tel +33 4 90 23 96 89; www.naturex.com
Namibia Breweries: Tel +264 61 320 4999; www.nambrew.com
Döhler: Tel +27 21 872 4976; info@afriplex.co.za; www.doehlersa.co.za



AB7 brings the world together

In June this year buyers from 72 countries, 27 of which were African,attended the three-day event. This
record number, a 39% increase on 2014 figures, was matched by a 20% increase in exhibitors to 267 companies.
New international exhibitors attracted by the expo’s reputation to deliver results came from Belarus, Belgium, Chile, Estonia, France, Peru, Ukraine and Vietnam.
A particular highlight this year was the various workshops presented by Italian food production experts, which accompanied the exhibits from 11 top Italian suppliers. The “Made-In-Italy” workshops included topics such as recent innovations in food packaging technology, packaging which reduces food waste, repurposing and even packaging elimination, the increasing consumption of juices and the role of technologies, focus on food packaging and bottling and safety, sustainability and efficiency in the dairy industry.
The return of the Zimbabwean pavilion to the show saw exhibitions from seven Zimbabwean companies in the horticulture and processed foods sectors. Zimbabwe last participated in the show in 2010. The country’s
pavilion included companies which produce a wide variety of products such as fresh fruit and vegetables; honey;confectionary products; fresh fruit juices; organic spices, herbs, herbal teas, dried fruits and condiments,among others.
Running concurrently, SouthernAfrican International Trade Exhibition (SAITEX), ran for three-days bringing opportunities to up and coming entrepreneurs. Speaking on the show, event organiser John Thomson said: “For 22 successful years, SAITEX has been a wellspring of new products, latest trends, new suppliers, untapped markets and new customers, locally and from around the world. This year was no different.
The show was great. We are delighted by the results. At a time when most exhibitions in South Africa are either stagnant or shrinking, AB7 is going from strength to strength”.
According to Thomson, statistics show that over 49% of visitors proved to be company owners or directors, whilst 53% of visitors could authorise a purchase, a real plus for the exhibitors.
Africa’s Big Seven 2016 takes place from 19 to 21 June 2016.
For more information on AB7 contact Lineke van der Brugghen, Exhibition Management Services: Tel +27 11 783 7250.Fax: +27 11 783 7269
Africa Big seven (AB7) one of the biggest food and beverage industry trade events took place between
the 21st and 23rd of June 2015 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg,South Africa



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 http://www.gfiaafrica.com



Innovation news

The Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) has launched an online trading platform for farmers to sell grains through a structured mechanism.
The platform called G-soko, links smallholder farmers to grain buyers and has been developed by the EAGC in partnership with FoodTrade Eastern and Southern Africa, and Virtual City, an IT firm based in Kenya.
According to EAGC, this is through a 5-year trade enhancement and promotion programme that aims to encourage trading in regional staple food markets.
Right now there is urgency to expand regional food trade due to the exponential growth of staple food imports. Linking rural food surplus production zones in Eastern Africa to major deficit urban consumption centres requires a well-functioning regional market. EAGC Executive Director, Mr Gerald Masila says the idea steamed from the need to address the deficiency but also do it in a way that is inclusive and effective, “This is why we developed G-Soko; a market transaction platform that will enhance food trade across borders, and contribute towards making trading more transparent,”
The platform performs a structured trade function that integrates the entire grain trade from farm to market.
Through G-Soko, farmers are able to aggregate their produce through a certified warehouse and also access financial services using their grains as collateral.
For the first time, grain farmers in the region including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania will now be able to trade their grain free, competitively and transparently across the region, through the G-Soko platform.
— Daily Nation Kenya



Technology news

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) has developed a new, faster, low-cost laboratory-based soil analysis technique. Developed by the African Soil Information Service (AfSIS) project, the new approach measures the light reflected by a soil sample and the resulting information is used to predict a number of properties of the sample, based on calibration databases.
This soil infrared spectroscopy technique cost farmers only US$1, compared to US$100 for other conventional soil testing methods.
Keith Shepherd, principal soil scientist at the Nairobi-based ICRAF, explains further: “This technology has the capability of providing affordable soil testing and advisory services to smallholder farmers and is beginning to be deployed by rural soil testing services.” Adding further that countries can now analyse a large number of soil samples with sufficient sample density per unit area to map soil properties.
With the availability of satellite imagery from space and unmanned aerial vehicles at ever-increasing spatial resolutions, it is becoming possible to make high-resolution soil property maps at low costs. AfSIS recently launched a 250m-resolution soil properties map of Africa.
The private sector and development agents promoting good soil management practices can also afford to monitor organic matter levels in the soil at their field sites.
Soil testing before planting helps farmers to decide the quantity and quality of fertilisers they should apply, thus reducing the risks of crop failure and financial loss. Blenders of fertilisers and agencies designing liming programmes can use the data from soil testing to know acidity levels and micronutrients in the soil in different regions, allowing them to make better products. AfSIS is helping Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania to establish national soil information systems and services based on soil spectroscopy and digital soil-mapping technology. – www.africanfarming.net



Agribusiness news

The European Union (EU) lifted a four-year ban on fresh ostrich meat after South Africa was declared free of bird flu.
Alan Winde, the Western Cape minister for economic opportunities, confirmed: “Resuming exports to the EU will play an important role in increasing the number of jobs in this industry, which currently employs over 50 000. The local ostrich industry is far less dependent on fresh meat as a product than it was in 2011.”
The Western Cape is the country’s main exporter of ostrich meat, chicks, feathers and eggs in an industry that is estimated to be worth more than R1bn.
The EU instituted the ban in April 2011 following an outbreak of the H5N2 substrain of bird flu.
The ostrich industry has taken steps to mitigate the financial risk should avian influenza break out again, said Francois de Wet, chairperson of the Ostrich Business Chamber.
The ostrich sector almost managed to recover after the EU embargo as demand and prices for ostrich leather increased due to fashion trends, Winde said.
Before the ban, SA was slaughtering 230 000 ostriches annually for their meat. When the EU imposed the embargo, this tumbled to 120 000 and then recovered to 190 000 by 2013 because of demand by fashion houses such as Kering SA’s Gucci and Prada SpA. – www.Fin24.com



Farming news

Tanzania has launched an agricultural development bank with the government pledging to raise US$380mn over the next eight years.
Speaking at the launch, Tanzania’s president, Jakaya Kikwete said the bank will address challenges that have hampered agriculture such as lack of financial packages, “Different financial packages will suit different categories of farmers.”
The Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) will receive US$48mn every year for eight years from the government so that its 20-year strategic plan can be implemented.
President Kikwete urged farmers to utilise the loans to be offered by the bank to improve their agricultural productivity. TADB will work with commercial and community banks, savings and credit cooperative societies to extend loans to farmers. Individuals can also access loans directly.
Small and medium farming outfits involved in maize, rice, fruit, sugarcane, horticulture, livestock and fish farming will be given priority. Bee keepers and farmers raising indigenous chicken will also benefit from TADB.
Farming in Tanzania is dominated by smallholder farmers, with the average farm size being between 0.9 ha and three hectares. These smallholder farmers collectively cultivate 5.1mn ha of which 85 per cent is used for growing food crops. Inadequate funding, poor farming methods and over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture has affected productivity, according to TanzaniaInvest.com.
Under-investment in agriculture has limited the area under irrigation. While the country has a potential of one million hectares of irrigable land, only 150,000 ha is currently being utilised. –www.africanfarming.net



Zimbabwean government outsources fertiliser manufacturer

Zimbabwe’s government has taken steps to source fertilisers from Belarus to ensure their sufficient availability in time for the upcoming cropping season. The SADC region nation has chosen Belaruskali, a Belarus-based fertiliser manufacturer, to supply it with the key farming input.
The deal will be financed as a part of a larger US$150mn memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was signed by Zimbabwe’s vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa and Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich in Minsk earlier this week.
Says Mnangagwa: “We have an agreement that we have signed for an initial US$150mn and from this fund, part of it will go towards purchasing fertiliser. This will go a long way in alleviating fertiliser shortages in our country. I have been amazed by the enormous nature of the operations at the facility and I have never seen such expertise. We are going to take such lessons so that we improve our own agricultural sector,” he added.
Zimbabwe’s minister for agriculture, mechanisation and irrigation development, Dr. Joseph Made, said that his ministry was working with Belaruskali to ensure that the fertiliser deal was finalised ahead of the summer cropping season this year. “We are now at a stage where officials from my ministry are working with staff from the company to conduct soil analysis to see which fertiliser is best for Zimbabwe,” concluded Made.
Belaruskali’s production capacity exceeds 12.5mn tonnes of fertiliser annually and the company does business in more than 70 countries around the world. – Africanfarming.net



Weetabix to source 50% of its wheat from local farmers

Cereal processor Weetabix East Africa is targeting to cut its wheat imports by 50% and instead start buying the grain from local farmers. The company has been working with a local wheat farmer in Narok who is expected to supply 26,000 bags of 90 kilogrammes, which is slightly higher than half of its requirement. Weetabix has in the past opted for imports because of the high market prices local farmers demand for their produce.
Currently, the firm is paying Sh2, 800 per 90-kg bag on imported wheat while the same quantity is retailing at Sh4, 000 locally.
Jack Fredrick, head of procurement at the firm says talks are already underway: “We are engaging one commercial farmer in Narok whose harvest we anticipate will meet half of our required capacity. As a company, we would want to buy wheat from local farmers, but at a fair price that enables us to be competitive and cushions consumers of our products against price increases.”
The firm has been offering technical support to the farmer, including teaching him best agronomical practices meant to cut production costs, which are often cited for the higher prices. The programme, however, is still at the pilot stage with Weetabix targeting to recruit about 20 farmers.
He added that Weetabix had increased its capacity, which required them to rely on both local and imported wheat for a steady supply of the raw material.
The UK-owned cereal processor invested over Sh200 million in the expansion of its Nairobi factory last year to meet the growing needs of an expanding middle class.
It has so far increased production to 3.6 million kg per year from 1.8 million kg. The demand of the breakfast cereals was 2.8 million kg in 2014 compared to 2.4 million kg in 2013.
Kenya does not produce enough wheat to meet its annual demand as only 350,000 tonnes is produced against a consumption of 900,000 tonnes. – BusinessDailyAfrica



Nakumatt to buy Shoprite’s Uganda stores

Nakumatt Supermarket has announced that it is in the final stages of acquiring two Ugandan stores of South African retail giant Shoprite.
Nakumatt Holdings’ head of strategy and operations Thiagarajan Ramamurthy said that the retail chain will sign the deal in less than two weeks, “We will be signing the Memorandum of Understanding with Shoprite to acquire their outlets in Uganda.”
The South African retailer closed one of its outlets in Kampala last month citing under-performance and poor location. The two stores that Nakumatt intends to buy are in Kampala. Shoprite opened its business in Uganda 15 years ago. While Shoprite Uganda has a workforce of over 500 employees in its two branches, Nakumatt has made its intentions to take over the staff very clear. The buyout will mark the exit of the South African retail giant from the East African market having sold its three Tanzanian outlets to Nakumatt for a reported Sh4 billion.
Nakumatt has eight branches in Uganda. – foodbusinessafrica.com



SABMiller opens new Namibian brewery

SABMiller has opened a new brewery in Okahandja, Namibia. Construction of the new $33.3-million, 260,000 hectolitre brewery began in mid-2013 and was completed in October 2014. The brewery is located on 7.2 hectares of land outside Okahandja city, 70km north of Windhoek.
Besides supporting the local communities in which it operates, SABMiller is proud of the local job creation at the brewery by employing 184 direct jobs at the new plant and multiple indirect jobs elsewhere in the value chain.
SABMiller says its investments in Namibia, and more broadly across the continent, underline the company’s belief in the region and its ability to drive long-term growth in Africa. Its commitment in Namibia also aligns with the national government’s Vision 2030 of an industrial nation. Cobus Bruwer, MD of SABMiller Namibia, says: “This is a seminal occasion for SABMiller in Namibia and represents the latest investment by the company in the African growth story. Not only will the brewery produce fantastic tasting beers, it will also contribute to the creation of a vibrant local manufacturing sector. This will in turn allow us to accelerate the emergence of small and medium sized Namibian businesses which are so important to the life blood of the economy and help create a growing population of skilled employees by supporting education and providing training.”
SABMiller has a long history in Namibia, having imported beers from South Africa to service the local market for more than two decades. The company has an estimated 22% share of the local beer market, with popular brands including Castle Lager, Carling Black Label and Castle Lite. These are now brewed on the new site in Okahanjda.
SABMiller Namibia is 60% owned by SABMiller and 40% by local Namibian partners comprising 20% Onyewu Investments and 20% by three charitable trusts for the benefit of local communities. – FoodStuffsa.co.za



African Innovations Conference

The maiden African Innovations conference was hosted at the Forum, Johannesburg on the 6 – 7 May 2015.