African Innovations Conference

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

Enkeldebosch unearths productivity with new super line

Schneider Electric along with an alliance partner Vennic has rooted a complete integrated solution at Enkeldebosch Boerdery’s potato grading, sorting and bagging (PGSB) plant.

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.

Solar power for various applications

When using solar power to run appliances it is important to understand the basics like photovoltaic module which is commonly known as a solar panel.

Drip irrigation advances

Irrigation is the controlled application of water for agricultural purposes through manmade systems to supply water requirements not satisfied by rainfall.

Jam processing

Food Processing Africa provides insight on how Mandy Aucamp,the owner of the Berrynice Berry Company situated in the Eastern Cape produces her speciality Raspberry jam.
Aucamp highlights that the decision to produce raspberry jam is because of her raspberry farm which enables her to reduce
waste of the fruit by preserving it. “The ideal fruits used for jam are those that are overripe. Raspberries are good for
jamming as they contain heaps of natural pectin in their seeds. Other berries such as blueberries and strawberries contain
less natural pectin,” she says.
Pectins are sugar molecules which are found naturally in plant cell walls. Pectins are found in fruits, particularly in the
peels and cores. When jam sets, it is pectin that that plays a vital role.The pectin content of different fruit, varies. Fruits such as apples and blackcurrants have higher levels of pectin than strawberries and raspberries. When a jam is being made from a low pectin fruit, either a higher pectin fruit must be included or commercial pectin must be added. The way to obtain commercial pectin is to utilise the peel of citrus fruits which have naturally high pectin content.
According to Aucamp, when cooking raspberry jam, the fruit is either cooked off the trees or from frozen fruit which has been defrosted.
“It is advisable to let the fruit cook a bit first then use a potato masher to break up the seeds to release as much pectin as possible. Proper jam is preservative free and is preserved by the sugar which is added at a 50/50 ratio,”
Aucamp says. The jam is then cooked in small quantities and during the process a lot of ‘scum’ will rise to the top. She
adds that the ‘scum’ has to be scooped off manually and the pot can therefore, not be covered.
Aucamp further explains that utilising copper cookware ensures that the product has the best colour and taste.She advises that aluminium not be used as it changes the colour of the jam.
“The jam is cooked until it thickens and reaches the correct gel consistency. This can be tested by keeping a side plate in the fridge and then taking a teaspoonful of jam and spreading it thinly on the plate (for it to cool). Then take the back of your spoon and draw a line through the centre – if the line stays, the consistency is thick enough and ready to be filled in a bottle.”
The role of sugar in jam making
Sugar content plays an important part in producing jam. It is vital for the flavour and further plays a role in helping the
jam, set. Aside from sweetening jam, sugar also assists in allowing the pectin to set by enhancing the gel-forming capability and drawing water to itself, decreasing the ability of the pectin to remain in separate chains. The final
sugar content of jam should be between 65 and 69%.
Bottling jam
Aucamp says when storing jam in glass jars, it is important that the jar is sterilised and dry. “The jam needs to be
82 0C.”
She says that once the lid is on, the jar needs to be inverted for a few seconds so that the top of the jar sterilises. Once that is done, the jar is tightly sealed.This procedure of making jam allows that it be kept on shelf for about two
years followed by it being refrigerated for about a month.
Aucamp says that some fruits such as pineapple which has little or no natural pectin can be thickened using powdered pectin. “The recipes do however need to be tried and tested until the correct consistency is achieved.”
She warns that overcooking jam results in the sugar being burnt which alters the colour of the product and once cooled is stringy and sticky.
Sugar-free jams
Sugar free jams can be sweetened using various sugar substitutes like xylitol or stevia. These jams usually need pectin as
there are rules surrounding the ratios as well as the cooking times. In the case of a sugar free jam the fruit content is around 80% of the end product and a preservative has to be used. Aucamp highlights that potassium sorbate is most effective to use in producing sugar-free jams and also provides a two year shelf-life.
Roscherr’s Fine Foods in Montagu, Cape Town
Martin Roscherr, the production and HACCP manager at Roscherr’s Fine Foods reminisces on how the company established its jam manufacturing process.
“As a pre-schooler, I can remember picking apricots from our trees on our Johannesburg residential property. Many of these were eaten from the tree, but there is a limit to how much one can consume before the apricots passes their best before date.”
He says the need to preserve fruit for use at a later time has been around since there were seasons, and cooking the apricots up with sugar and making jam is certainly a tasty option.
“I would ‘help’ my mom stir and taste of course, as we first cooked the apricots soft and later added sugar,” says Roscherr.
He adds that testing whether the jam was of proper consistency and taste entailed it being spread on a saucer, allowed to cool and form a skin. “Once the jam was ready it would be poured into canned fruit glass jars that had been heated in a pot of shallow steaming water.”
He mentions that the process has come a long way in comparison to how it initially was.
“There are still folks that cook the fruit from their own orchards and sell the jams and preserves at farm stalls. On
the other hand, there are mega-factories pumping out tons of jams per day made from fruit pulp.”He says that Roscherr’s Fine Foods finds itself in the middle of the two extremes, or rather, in the fortunate position to have the best of both worlds.
The business started years ago when the owners of a restaurant in Montagu (Western Cape), made jam during quieter trading times. Traditional family recipes were used, and fruit was in abundance.These jams were given as gifts to friends, and according to Roscherr, soon as news spread; a demand for great tasting jam was created. “This is how the jam manufacturing
business came about.”
He says his grandmothers jam recipes are used, to date. The only difference is that there is a benefit to utilising scientific equipment. “The equipment is used to test the jam for consistency and quality.”
‘As we use no preservatives, we rely on a consistent sugar percentage as well as a certain acidity to produce a product
that is unfavourable for the growth of micro-organisms.”
The role of acids in jam production
Acids are important in helping the pectin set. Fruits naturally contain acids. The most well known is citric acid although
malic acid and tartaric acids are also found in a number of fruits. While some acid will be contributed by the fruit from
which the jam is made, this is often not enough to reach the desired PH. For this reason, more will need to be added and
is commonly in the form of lemon juice which contains citric acid and by using powdered forms of acid.
Monitoring of temperatures is also vital; it should be high enough to ensure that micro-organisms are eliminated and also not too high so as to prevent caramelising the product on the pot and causing a burned taste.”
A few greenish-coloured (unripe) apricots are used because of its higher pectin levels which helps the jam set. “Today’s fruit are all ripe and have lower pectin levels and we have to add pectin to certain jams to help them set.”
The company exports “quality” fruit rejected for having the “slightest” mark on it, ones that are slightly under or oversized and unsuitable for market needs.
According to Roscherr the company has the “perfect” staff compliment that inspects all fruit on arrival. He says there are fruits that are rejected during inspection.
Roscherr Fine Foods comprises of more than 20 staff members, four of which have been stayed with the company for more than 20 years and 11 that have been with the company for 10 years.
He maintains that the company’s jams comprise of no less than 65% fruit content.
“Many of our clients want to spread fruit pieces over their bread when buying the product, else they would have purchased canned jam that has a fruit content under 30% and a jelly like texture.”
The company’s jam manufacturing process is subjected to annual audits from internationally accredited food safety bodies. Everything from the ordering, procurement, dispatching, customer safety and quality assurance is checked.
“Through the food safety system we record all aspects of the process and each bottle produced has a batch code printed
on the lid whereby we are able to trace where all the ingredients came from, also to which clients we have dispatched that
batch, expiry dates etc.”
He says that keeping up to date with the ever changing labelling requirements is no small task and exporting has its own
list of challenges.
“In a nutshell: we are small enough to maintain and pass down a tradition of quality jam making and big enough to implement international standards and do private labelling for big brands.”
Roscherr says the key to the company’s success has been tried and trusted recipes, quality fruit, trusted and experienced staff, and utilising science as a means to control and ensure safety and quality and good relationships with both suppliers
and clients.
Montagu Roscherrs Fine Foods: Tel + 27 23 614 1360;
The Berrynice Berry Company: Tel + +27 83 384 6611;; info@berrynice,

The future of packaging in Africa

Speaking at the Packaging and Beyond Africa Innovation Conference earlier this month, Roy Campbell, a partner at Deloitte & Touche South Africa, highlighted that the increasing market for consumer products within the African continent will be the major driver for higher growths in the packaging industry
In his presentation titled ‘Investing in packaging for the African Market: A new era’, Campbell highlighted that the global consumer packaging market for 2013, when looked at through geographic segmentation was led by Europe with a share of 33%, followed by North America with 29%, the Asia Pacific Region (APAC) region with 28% the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region with 6% and Latin America with 4%. Campbell explains further “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts predicts annual growth of 6.5% over the next five years in East and West Africa. The two regions on par with the fastest growing regions of mainland China and emerging Asia. Expectations for growth in South and Southern Africa are not as optimistic as the IMF has only forecast a GDP increase of about 2% in SA and 3%-4% in Southern Africa over a corresponding period. East Africa however is expected to reach a GDP growth of 8.1% by 2016.”
Food and beverage packaging market growth
The food and beverage packaging end users are by far the market leaders with 51% of the packaging used for food and 18% used for beverages. Furthermore Campbell indicated that the global consumer packaging market by end users was valued at us$155.20 billion in 2013 and is expected to reach US$188.31 billion by 2018, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.94%. He says: “The drinking preferences of people are expected to change because most of the population comprises young people and they have different tastes from older people. Also, the growth in urbanisation and the growth in the per capita income of people increase the affordability of packaged food and drinks, which were once considered to be affordable only for the high income population. These are the factors driving the growth of the global beverages packaging market.
However, even if emerging markets for other components/products witness very high growth rates and offer good opportunities for packaging companies to expand in the coming years, beverages will remain the main source of revenue
for packaging companies because the demand for hot drinks such as tea and coffee never declines. This year only we seeing the fastest growth in the beverage categories is expected to come from still drinks, energy and sports drinks, and iced teas.”
Explaining further on the global food packaging market, Campbell said the market is expected to see a steady growth and expand at a CAGR of 3.47% during the 2013-2018 period. “One of the major drivers in this market is the increased demand for dairy products. In recent years, the demand for raw milk and other dairy products has increased significantly because of the growing population, rise in purchasing power, and increased fitness awareness among people. The increased health awareness among people is prompting them to focus on consuming healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, and meat. The increased consumption of these food items is driving the need for the right type of packaging for these products. Single person households are also a contributing factor with these households leaning towards convenience food and packaged
food along with single serve and smaller sizes of sweets and snacks packets are gaining popularity because they help customers manage portion control, thereby satisfying their craving for sweets without affecting their health.”
Trends and demands
Campbell listed a few challenges and demands that will influence packaging trends in Africa over the coming 3 – 5 year period.
Increase in demand for premium packaging
The increasing demand for premium packaging, especially for premium consumer products such as cosmetics and household items, is mainly from developed and mature markets such as the US, Japan, and Western Europe. With the growing urbanization of most African countries the trend will soon follow.
Emergence of biodegradable plastics With the environment compliance regulations worldwide getting more
stringent, vendors will be more likely to adopt biodegradable plastics as a substitute to avoid hefty penalties. Consumers are also becoming environmentally aware and adhering to enviro-friendly products.
• Increased usage of multipacks and small packs
In the mass consumption branded category, the rising number of single person households has led to increased demand for multipacks and small packs of various consumer products. This preference for small packs creates opportunities for brand switching because consumers buy products regularly and are not committed to consuming large volumes.
• Need for sustainability and innovation Consumers are expecting packaging materials that are eco-friendly and sustainable. Vendors are investing in R&D to develop materials that have the ability to be recycled and have the traditional capability of friction, moisture, and heat resistance.
In conclusion Campbell highlights: “Packaging companies should ensure that they have the ability to meet these demands. Companies wishing to take advantage of Africa’s potential will have to stay close to their markets, be adaptable and ready to develop packaging solutions that are better rather than cheaper.”
– Kgaogelo Mamabolo Letsebe

Trends that will affect regional economic integration and trade in Africa.

Africa is not immune to the shocks and changes in the world economy that could help or hinder its efforts to speed up integration, bring down borders and better use its space to boost its own economy. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) World Trade Report 2014 identified four major trends from the last decade which have had an impact on African integration:
• The increasing impact of shocks to the global economy shows that open trade can spread the fallout but also help to reduce volatility.
• The phenomenal trade growth from the developing world led by emerging economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa, where it has been spurred by demand for commodities. The income gap between emerging and developed countries has narrowed, but Africa is lagging behind.
• The expansion of global value chains. The share in total trade of intermediate goods, services and
components between developing countries grew from about 6% in 1988 to nearly 25% in 2013. However, African firms have struggled to participate meaningfully in the global value chains.
• The changing prices of commodities exports of fuels and mining products. Africa’s resource-rich countries face challenges pursuing development strategies due to the boom-bust cycle of commodity prices. In addition, two other notable trends will impact Africa’s spatial development.
Facilitation agreements aimed at bringing down trade barriers have advantages and disadvantages for those
pursuing long distance commerce. And the new wave of mega-trade agreements involving major trading countries can divert trade and erode preferences.
– African Economic Outlook ©

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.

Foreign investment on the cards for Nigeria – Nigeria

New Hope Liuhe Company Limited (NHLCL), an agribusiness company from China, has expressed its desire to invest in the sector’s development in Nigeria.
Dang ZhiMin, vice president at NHLCL, led the company delegation to Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja. ZhiMin made assurances to invest in various sectors like manufacturing, processing and selling of animal feed, raw material additives, dairy products and more. He said that the company’s investment in its selected areas of interest would also help the local economy and provide employment.
The Chinese delegation was accompanied by a representative from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Zhao Xin, general manager of investment and development at NHLCL, said that the company, in collaboration with the foundation, is ready to invest in Nigeria. Describing the country as one of the
biggest markets in the continent, he asked the government to support their plans.
The executive secretary of NIPC, Uju Hassan-Baba assured the potential investors of government assistance and an investment environment conducive to their investment, saying, “Those who are investing in the agricultural sector in Nigeria, especially a company like yours, is assured of abundant resources and huge fortunes.”
Hassan-Baba said that encouragement, promotion and coordination of investments in Nigeria were part of the commission’s mandate.
She told the delegation members that Nigeria offered a ready-made market for products, with more than 170mn consumers in the country and also served as a gateway to other markets in West Africa.

Government buys 30% in Meatco

Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, chairperson of Meatco has confirmed that the Namibian government would take up the long awaited 30% stake in the form of equity in Meatco.
Namundjebo-Tilahun delivered the good news for all stakeholders at the AGM of Meatco, which brings to an
end speculation about government’s intentions regarding the controlling shareholding. The announcement also made clear that the original cabinet decision has not changed, namely that Meatco should be a producer-owned and controlled entity under a cooperative type structure. The cooperative will consist
of producers and a trading company in which the producers will have the majority shareholding and government the minority share. Cabinet emphasised that any form of ownership of both the cooperative and the holding company should accommodate communal and commercial livestock producers and shall have to take cognizance of the strategic nature of the meat industry, the public investment made in the control of animal disease and the marketing of meat and meat products.
According to the government, the acquisition is a calculated move as the meat industry has been declared a strategic sector that is dependent on weather and climate change.
Namundjebo-Tilahun explains: “In the case of drought, the government will be able to intervene and rescue producers from bankruptcy, while animal disease control, maintenance of the veterinary cordon fence and testing standards will also be the state’s responsibility. It is clear to all of us that our industry is in a crisis and it will be to our detriment if we do not apply our minds as well as interrogate everything that is presented to us.”
At the AGM the CEO of Meatco, Vekuii Rukoro, highlighted the company’s performance for 2013/14, saying Meatco recorded increased revenue of 14.61%, mainly due to the additional Norway quota and weakening Namibian dollar against foreign currencies.
He stressed the importance of focussing on production to ensure efficiencies and ongoing focus on
improving stakeholders’ relations, and building mutual confidence with government, producers, employees
and customers.
In total Meatco slaughtered 116 771 cattle in 2013/14, only 141 animals less than the previous financial year, representing less that a one percent decrease. – New Era news

Decreasing local currency pushes up food prices

Depreciating local currency and rising food prices have pushed up the annual headline inflation rate in May to 5.3%, up from the previous month’s 4.5%, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
According to the statistics body, the overall index went up to 157.86 in May,2015 from 149.89 recorded in May, 2014. The bureau attributed the inflation rise to high food prices, citing some of the food items that had their prices soaring as cassava flour by 12.3 pc, meat by six pc, fish by 11.7pc, cowpea by 13.9 pc and beans by 4.2 pc, while restaurant food prices soared by 4.1 pc.
Addressing reporters, NBS director of population census and social statistics Ephraim Kwesigabo said on the other hand that some of the non-food items that contributed to the increase of by 3.5pc, gents wear by 5.6pc and accommodation services by 4.2pc.
He furthermore said food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation rate for the month of May, this year, has
increased to 8.5pc from 7.1 recorded in April, this year.

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

Coffee exports exceed target for 2014/2015 fiscal – Uganda

Banyankore Kweterana Cooperative Union (BKCU) Ltd has been ranked among the best performing unions in Uganda, having processed and exported 43 containers (825.6 metric tonnes) of coffee in the financial year 2014/2015. The new tonnage surpasses the target of 31 containers (595.2 metric tonnes).
The chairman of the BKCU Board of Directors, Geoffrey Beingana, said the share capital was projected to increase by Shs 66 million but went up to Shs273.7 million. The union has 350 primary cooperative societies from Ankole subregion.
Says Baingana: “The good progress is being affected by competition where many coffee buyers in the market bother less about the quality of coffee.”
BKCU general manager, Nelson Niwahebwa, revealed that the best coffee deliveries were recorded from
cooperative societies of Ijumo Ruhinda in Mitooma District (309,912 kg), Nyamirima Mutegaya in Ibanda District (248,060kg), Kyabandara in Sheema District (180,609kg) and Kanyansheko in Ibanda District (49,475kg). Niwahebwa additionally requested government to fully release the remaining balance of war
loss compensation worth Shs985m to enable the union to operate fully.
– The Monitor

Botswana opens door on ostrich farming

Botswana Ostrich Farmers Association (BOFA) hosted a seminar at the University of Botswana on challenges faced by the industry.
Ostrich farming may be the next big thing in Botswana’s agriculture industry. BOFA, supported by University of Botswana’s department of management, organised a workshop for ostrich farmers and those looking to enter the ostrich farming industry.
The mid-term stakeholder seminar was a follow-up that aims to provide a forum for constructive engagement
between the association, its members and other stakeholders. According to a statement by BOFA, relative novelty of the industry necessitates detailed planning at both national and project levels before farmers decide to plunge into ostrich production as a sustainable industry. Some of the challenges that are pointed out include lack of control over the quality of ostrich chicks; inadequate training for breeding; lack of knowledge about feed rations; market and logistical challenges; and cash flow and continuity issues. Addressing such concerns and creating a more positive perception about the ostrich farming industry by providing relevant information is the chief aim of the seminar. The meeting will bring together local and international players in the industry to deliberate these issues so that attending farmers have an opportunity to be better informed by discussions between the various stakeholders present.
Botswana has a large population of ostriches endemic to the region but lags behind neighbours South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia, as well as China, Europe and United States of America in commercial production.
– Africa farming and food processing

Long distance transportation

With South Africa being the business hub of southern Africa, most food and beverage companies transport their goods through borders to franchises in neighbouring countries. Food Processing Africa takes an in-depth look into the logistics, refrigeration technologies as well as shelf life developments that are part and parcel of cross border transportation of food and beverages.
From 2010 to 2013, intra-African exports grew by 50% from USD$40.9 billion to USD $61.4 billion (IMF Direction of Trade Statistics). In 2013, the same exports grew by 11.5% from USD $55 billion in 2012 to USD$61.4 billion. Challenges that accompany such developments include cross-border transportation particularly for fresh produce, perishables and meats.
Transporting perishables successfully and profitably requires considerable investment in equipment and specialised knowledge – not to mention a variety of consistent disciplines. “Today’s consumer does not only demand a fair price for fresh and frozen goods, but also expects high quality goods with a reasonable shelf life,” says Clinton Holcroft, MD of Serco Industries, manufacturers of refrigerated truck bodies and trailers.
“Retailers want to avoid being saddled with the loss from returns, as well as the negativity of having a product that is not to the customer’s satisfaction. The resultant trend is that stores and supermarkets are getting more involved in checking the temperature of a product when it arrives,” Holcroft states. Retailers now have the right to reject the load, an option which may not have been as stringently enforced five or 10 years ago. “This means more pressure on the transporter to maintain the cold chain correctly.”
According to Holcroft there are numerous procedures and accessories that can help in reducing problems,
particularly for transporters with multiple drop offs, or with products which should be transported at different temperatures within the same vehicle, “It is imperative that the product is pre-cooled to the
required temperature prior to loading. The refrigerated truck or trailer should also be pre-cooled before loading. If the required temperature is -20°C, it’s foolish to load the vehicle at ambient temperature and then rely on the refrigeration motor to do the rest. The cooler unit is designed to maintain the correct temperature and not to cool the product to the required temperature during transit.”
Windhoek based refrigerated distribution leader, Sirkel Transport, has a multi facet company which delivers a variety of goods including fish, meat, poultry and perishables between Windhoek and Walvis Bay. Sirkel’s fleet includes 28 pallet refrigerated semitrailers and 22 refrigerated rigid trucks of different sizes which have payloads of 3, 7 and 17 tonnes. According to Llewellyn Anthony of Sirkel, the fleet of refrigerated semi-trailers travels as far north as Katima Mulilo on the border of Angola and/or from Walvis Bay to South Africa and through to Mozambique where traders take the fish. “Our refrigerated
fleet is a mixture of bodies build by Icecold Bodies and Elite Fibre. There is also a combination of Thermo king and Carrier refrigeration units that we possess.
Because of the long distances and severe climatic conditions that we travel, our fleet does take some strain. Our biggest challenge in urban areas is waiting time at the back of supermarkets as staff waits to offload. This idle time is costly and needs to be curbed”. With this growing demand to curb increasing operating costs, founding partner of Namibian-based MR Repairs, Peter Bader, developed a small cold room that uses minimal energy and is solar powered. According to Bader, “the refrigeration system has an open driven compressor belt driven by a 0.75 kW AC motor connected to inverted power from solar panels. The delta connection reduces the starting current as the motor gradually increases speed
which is later regulated to maintain the cold room air temperature between 20C and 90C and an average of 40C. Thus far we have installed about 35 systems in a 6 year period.” Bader concludes that he remains upbeat regarding the transport refrigeration sector in Namibia and neighbouring countries, “We are hopeful that more international role players in the food business will enter our markets,” he says.
Additional reporting by The cold chain newspaper
Serco: Tel +27 11 397 8993;
Sirkel Transport: Tel +264 61 22 8013
MR Repairs: Tel +264 228341/230728; Fax +264 061228952;

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.”—

Nestlé layoffs in Africa ‘won’t affect SA’

Plans by the world’s biggest food and drinks company, Nestlé, to reduce staff across the continent will not affect SA, its Johannesburg-based unit said.
Nestlé’s Swiss parent company confirmed reports it would axe 15% of its workforce across 21 African countries after overestimating consumer spending power in the region. Other international companies such as Coca-Cola, Cadbury, and Eveready have all cut jobs in recent months bringing into question Africa’s supposedly booming middle class.

“The workforce cuts by Nestlé in the East African region which were reported in the media do not concern Nestlé SA,” a local company spokesperson said in a statement.

In contrast to the disappointing performance being experienced in the east of the continent, Southern Africa — which includes SA, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana — are Nestlé’s fastest growing African markets. In the first quarter of the year, growth in the region was already in double digits, the local division said. Central and West Africa, Nestlé’s biggest market on the continent, had seen good growth, the company said.

About 60 workers across equatorial Africa — which includes the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Angola and Kenya — would be affected by the restructuring as the Swiss company embarked on a drive to break even by next year.

Nestle employs about 11 000 workers in Africa. –

Democratic Republic of Congo Swiss dairies model comes to Africa

Alex Kasole, a native of the east DRC has established a cheesery modelled on those in Switzerland. Kasole, whose 285-hectare dairy farm is located near the village of Mushaki, which owns several dozen Swiss Brown and Brown Swiss cows as well as the Friesländer breed adapt to high altitudes better than
African cattle. Says Kasole, “Other dairy farmers in the region produce their cheese in bathtubs standing
in wooden sheds. Proper hygiene is important to me. I have been to cheese factories in Switzerland and regard them as models for his dairy. The cows provide 400 liters of milk a day, which I use to make the popular Masisi Gouda cheese.”

Morocco Innovative idea scores The Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2015

Researcher Adnane Remmal won the US$100,000 ( R1 187 130.00) grand prize for his antibiotic alternative for livestock farmers. The patented all-natural anti-microbial formula reduces health hazards in livestock and prevents the transmission of multi-resistant bacteria and carcinogens to humans through
consumption of milk, eggs and meat.
“My innovation provides farmers with solutions to improve their production,” said Remmal. “It is cost
effective and can be easily adopted,giving farmers increased benefits without the side effects of antibiotics.”
Kenya’s Alex Mwaura Muriu and South African, Lesley Erica Scott, won US$25,000 (R 296782.50) each, claiming second prize and a special prize for social impact, respectively.
Murui developed the Farm Capital Africa project, which helps farmers to access funding to invest in their
businesses without having to resort to seeking bank loans, while Scott developed a World Health Organization (WHO)-approved calibration method for tuberculosis diagnostic machines.
The IPA 2015 awards ceremony, which was hosted by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) in Skhirat, Morocco, was attended by more than 400 people, including ministers, dignitaries, AIF partners, entrepreneurs and previous IPA winners. –

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.

Uganda New Holland donates tractor to missionary project

The initiative, which is being rolled out by Ugandan priest Emmanuel Maria Vura, known locally as ‘Father Natalino’, provides young people in Uganda with a source of income and food, according to
Vura. It is also expected to rehabilitate them by teaching them new skills.
The project is located in northern Uganda’s Moyo district, centring on a cooperative farm and associated rabbitry.
New Holland said the tractor, which was presented to Father Natalino by the company’s agriculture brand president Carlo Lambro, will help the farm to operate more efficiently. “One of a range of tractors traditionally popular with arable and livestock farmers, the TD5.95 will enable the farmers to grow higher quality forage for rabbit food on-site, allowing them to avoid the need to purchase costly commercial rabbit feed.
The added help which the tractor will provide could also allow the centre to boost productivity to the levels required to begin selling the surplus to markets and supermarkets, the firm said –

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.