AFGRI Equipment Australia scoops sought after accolade

AFGRI Equipment Australia, a subsidiary of South African-based AFGRI, and the largest distributor of agricultural machinery in South Africa and Western Australia, has been awarded the status of 2017 Platinum Medallion Dealer by John Deere Financial Limited in Australia and New Zealand.

“The Platinum Medallion is awarded to a dealer for achieving excellence through their finance portfolio based on volume financed and strike rate and AFGRI Equipment Australia is one of three dealers who can boast this achievement for 2017,” says Patrick Roux managing director at AFGRI Equipment.

AFGRI Equipment Australia has also achieved Platinum status in 2014 for achieving goals set by John Deere on the penetration rate and large finance volumes during a calendar year. AFGRI Equipment Australia was ranked bronze in 2015 after the criteria for the medallion awards were revised in 2015.

The dealership bounced back in 2016 to achieve a Silver Medallion, and topped it with the Platinum Medallion in 2017.

Coetzee believes the acquisitions of Jolly & Sons in 2015, followed by Greenline AG in 2016 by AFGRI Equipment Australia contributed to its success in 2017. “The acquisitions over the past 18 months have added to the portfolio volume for AFGRI as well as afforded them the scale to continue to provide high quality service to a growing finance portfolio,” he said.

AFGRI Equipment recently announced yet another acquisition in Australia, that of Rattan & Slatter.   “ The acquisition was made to further our well-established mission of being the preferred supplier of premium agricultural equipment, services and solutions,” concluded Roux.

AFGRI Equipment’s latest offerings on show at Arlington Tillage Day

Centurion, 20 April 2017 – AFGRI Equipment is once again proud to be part of the Arlington Tillage Farmers Day taking place on 20 April. For the past couple of years, AFGRI Equipment, through its branch in Bethlehem and Marquard, has supported the Arlington Farmers Union by showcasing the latest high quality agricultural equipment.

This year will be no different and we look forward to giving our valued clients the opportunity to test the latest high quality, technologically advanced equipment we offer.

On show from AFGRI Equipment will be a variety of premium equipment to view and experience. (more information on the equipment to attract clients, it can include prices, especially if they are offering “special show prices”). Clients will be given the opportunity to test drive the equipment/tractors.

In the last three years, interest in the Arlington Tillage Farmers Day has grown and it is now one of the largest agricultural equipment demonstrations in the Free State.

BUSINESS MEDIA MAGS: Farming For The Future

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

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

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

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

Taking sustainability seriously

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A streamlined approach

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you know?

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

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

Greener communities

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

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

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

Pollard, Kriel back to face Jaguars

Vodacom Bulls regulars, Handré Pollard and Jesse Kriel, are back in the starting fifteen for the Pretoria franchise that will face the Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The two Springboks missed last weekend’s unexpected defeat in the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament against the Sunwolves in Tokyo due to a rest agreement between SA Rugby and the six Super Rugby franchises, but their influence will be vital in the surge needed from the home side to become play-off contenders later in the season.

They replace Tian Schoeman and Warrick Gelant, who reverts to the bench.

Coach Nollis Marais not only welcomes back two of his international players, but also has a fit Lood de Jager available. De Jager missed the Tokyo match due to injury, but the former SA Rugby Player of the Year is back to full fitness and replaces Jason Jenkins, who moves down to the bench.

Piet van Zyl, who also missed out on Sunwolves selection due to injury, is fit again and the third change to the backline. He comes in for Rudy Paige at scrumhalf.

Up front, Pierre Schoeman will start at loosehead for the fourth time this season, replacing Lizo Gqoboka.

Former Vodacom Blue Bulls age group player, Marnus Schoeman (on loan from the Steval Pumas), was named on the bench and could make his Vodacom Super Rugby and Vodacom Bulls debut if he takes to the field.

The former Waterkloof High School flanker was on loan to the DHL Stormers at the start of the season, but picked up an injury pre-season and missed out on squad selection down in Cape Town.

He now joins a number of old team mates in the set-up.

Marais was not hiding away from their poor performances when announcing the team in Pretoria on Thursday.

“We are not where we wanted to be at this stage of the competition and that is disappointing. Yes, we had a tough schedule in the opening weeks of the competition, but good teams are supposed to overcome those. I still believe we have the make-up, talent and mindset to become a serious contender in the tournament this year, but reality bites. We under performed, but there is massive determination to turn our season around.”

Vodacom Bulls captain, Adriaan Strauss, is all too aware of the threats the Jaguars will post.

“They are almost a test match team and they play test match style rugby. They minimise mistakes, take the points and put huge emphasis on first phase. That makes them a difficult team to breakdown. We can do that, but will need patience on attack and discipline on defence,” Strauss said.

“The team is absolutely delighted to be back home, not only in their personal capacity, but also back at Loftus,where our other family lives. We need to show we are a championship team and I think us coming back to our fans and support base, could just be the spark.”

AFGRI Equipment acquires Ratten & Slater in Western Australia

AFGRI Equipment are delighted to announce the acquisition of Ratten & Slater.

 The acquisition took effect on the 4th April 2017 with AFGRI having acquired all three locations at Gnowangerup, Albany and Esperance. Ratten & Slater commenced operations in Esperance in 1964 and have since grown to service a large area in the south east and south west of WA. As AFGRI continues in its growth phase, we acquired Ratten & Slater to further expand our footprint and customer base in WA echoing our vision to be the market leader in our field with a strong and reputable brand. Whilst being John Deere dealers, we also have various other franchises including Manitou, Bourgault, Kuhn, Trufab and Croplands.

AFGRI made this acquisition to further our well-established mission, to be the preferred supplier of premium agricultural equipment, services and solutions. With the constant improvements in technology, additional experts in different fields are required. This further expansion will allow us to better cater to the needs of our customers, and meet their need for premium new and used equipment, competitive parts and reliable servicing.

AFGRI, a private company started over 90 years ago in South Africa, is a leading agricultural services and processing company. In 2004, AFGRI holdings acquired T & H Walton Stores and changed the name of their operations to AFGRI Equipment Pty Ltd in 2013. This current acquisition follows on from our previous acquisitions of Jolly & Sons in 2015 and Greenline in August 2016. The acquisition now means AFGRI will operate out of 14 dealerships across WA including our previous 11 branches of Boyup Brook, Carnamah, Dalwallinu, Geraldton, Perth-Guildford, Lake Grace, Moora, Pingelly, Wagin, Witchcliffe and Wongan Hills. Throughout our operations, our employees are from a mix of different cultures with a strong Australian backbone. From senior management through to our branches, we strongly believe in being engaged in our local community.

AFGRI Operations Director Gollie Coetzee said the management team have implemented the best practices to ensure AFGRI is ready to supply the market with premium products and service excellence at our newly-acquired locations. “This whole acquisition process has been absolutely positive. It was a willing-buyer, willing-seller scenario so there was no push from anybody and the way that the whole transition has gone has been tremendous,” he said. Mr Coetzee said an important aspect was making the transition for our new employees and customers smooth and comfortable. “The main message from this transition is to comfort our new employees and customers and let them know to not be alarmed,” he said.  “We had opportunity to talk to our new staff and our staff had the opportunity to put their concerns forward.  “Our employees are our business and we have a strong employee culture based on our values.” Mr Coetzee said he anticipates a great relationship moving forward. “With our mission and values being very similar to Ratten and Slater, we believe everything will continue to run smoothly and we are looking forward to what the future may bring,” he said.

Uplifting farmers will reduce poverty in Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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