NAMPO / Nation in Conversation: Inspirational women in business

With the lead up to this year’s Nation in Conversation debates taking place at NAMPO – from the 15th to the 18th of May – one of the sessions will focus on the role of women in the agricultural sector. While it’s a well-known fact that the number of women participating in the South African agricultural labour market amounts to some 278,000 individuals, roughly a third of the sector’s total labour force, with the World Bank putting women’s share of labour in crop production at an average 40% across the rest of Africa, a perhaps more important issue is how female leadership in the sector is shaping up.


Some progress has been made in the past few years in increasing the number of women in management positions within the sector, with several national agricultural associations and organisations having prominent women at the helm.


For AFGRI, South Africa’s leading agribusiness, now in its 95th year of doing business, the issue of female participation, particularly at a leadership level, has been a firm priority for several years. Testament to this is the fact that Marion Shikwinya has for several years been the Managing Director of the group’s Harvest Time Investments, an initiative focused on the development of the country’s small-scale farmers, many of whom are themselves women.


With the recent appointment of Rivasha Maharaj as CFO, and Thabi Nkosi as Head of Business Development, the agricultural group has taken another stride forward in ensuring more female participation at a senior level.


According to Chris Venter, the CEO of AFGRI Group Holdings, this is an important development for the group: “We need diversity in all key positions of the agricultural sector, particularly because the sector is viewed as one of the mainstays of growth and development in this country. As such, it is important that diversity is prioritised without compromising on the qualifications, skills and experience needed to take the sector – and AFGRI – forward.”


As the new CFO of AFGRI Group Holdings, Maharaj sees her role as an exciting challenge, allowing her the opportunity to drive change and strategy within the business, and in so doing, impact both the financial and social aspects of the group positively.


For Nkosi, an agricultural economist by training and background, the issue of gender parity remains critical. “My inspiration comes from all the women who have beaten the odds to achieve success in various areas. I would like to empower others through my example.”


She views the two most important challenges for the country in terms of agriculture in the next five years as being setting clear policy on the land question, and how South Africa will adapt to the increasing occurrence of extreme weather events brought on by climate change.


According to Harvest Time Investment’s Shikwinya, the issue is a complex one: “The future of agriculture will be impacted by many things, including climate change, consumer demands, availability of arable land, water scarcity, etcetera, and so I believe it’s difficult to determine exactly what the greatest of these challenges will be. And I would say that unless we are as a country able to embrace innovative solutions to ensure sustainable agriculture, we will continue to see challenges. The ability of the sector to thrive in South Africa, particularly in food production, will depend on the ability of producers to adapt to and implement solutions that will be brought about by what could be termed the ‘agri-technovation’ era.”


On the question of the role of women in agriculture, Shikwinya believes women have always been involved in the sector, in one way or another. “Historically, women helped to grow food for their families. They certainly have a proven ability in primary production, although we need to focus more and more on leading female primary producers in our country. The important thing to recognise though, is that primary production is not the only area in which women can contribute to the sector. Women can play a leadership role in terms of driving innovation, influencing decisions in large agricultural services companies, and in policy making in government, as examples. It is, therefore, important that the sector focuses on creating an environment in which women can thrive, no matter the area they chose to be involved in.”

NAMPO / Nation in Conversation: UN decade of family farming

This year AFGRI, one of South Africa’s leading agricultural services company, is proud to again be participating at NAMPO, and in the Nation in Conversation debates taking place between the 14th and 18th of May, at Bothaville in the Free State.  Chris Venter, the CEO of AFGRI Group Holdings, will be one of the panellists in the session focusing on family farming, taking place on Wednesday, 16 May at 11am.


With the emphasis on farming as a family business gaining new momentum with the United Nations’ adoption of a decade of family farming, this discussion will focus on how governments, business and labour can get involved to promote sustainable development to alleviate global hunger. This is particularly apt in South Africa, where most of the farms are owned and managed by families.


For AFGRI, now celebrating its 95th year in business, this topic is close to its heart. The group has after all been supporting farming over the generations, and aims to continue doing so for decades to come.


“With 95 years of experience in the agricultural sector, AFGRI understands what it takes to be a successful farmer. We strive towards constant progression, growth, innovation and forging our vision for food security in South Africa and the rest of the continent. AFGRI will always, as it has done for over 95 years, be with the farmers, for the farmers. We are proud to have been a part of their heritage for generations, and remain passionate about their success and the future farmers to come. From the past, to the present and the future – we support our farmers and recognise their passion,” says CEO of AFGRI, Tinus Prinsloo.


Another major thrust for AFGRI is to support the sector to ensure food security, inextricably linked to its role in the future of farming and sustainable development within the agricultural sector. According to The Food and Agriculture Organisation, the number of people experiencing food insecurity in Africa rose from 220-million people to 224-million people in 2017, attributed to changing weather patterns that led to poor harvests, a loss of livestock, conflict and recurrent droughts on the continent. South Africa’s food security ranking currently stands at 44th out of 113 countries, according to the Global Food Security Index, developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit.


“For this reason, our focus is on all farmers, whether they are family farmers, large commercial farmers or small-scale farmers. Each has a role to play in ensuring enough food is produced to prevent South Africans, as well as the people of Africa, from going hungry. Equally important is our support of agriculture that ensure the farmer is commercially successful to ensure sustainability.”


The group’s sustainable development initiatives include Harvest Time Investments, which was launched in 2012 to unlock the potential of emerging farmers and their farms through training, development, and mentorship.


“All-in-all this support, imparting of knowledge and care is to safeguard agriculture for future generations,” concludes Prinsloo.


How does the US compare in terms of family farms?

As in South Africa, family farms play a dominant role in US agriculture. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in 2016, these farms accounted for some 97% of farms and 89% of production.


  • Food equals family – 97% of the 2.1 million farms in the United States are family-owned operations.
  • Small business matters – 88% of all US farms are small family farms.
  • Local connections come in small packages – 58% of all direct farm sales to consumers come from small family farms.
  • Big business matters too – 64% of all vegetable sales and 66% of all dairy sales come from the 3% of farms that are large or very large family farms.
  • Farming provides new beginnings – 18% of principal operators on family farms in the US started within the last 10 years.


For South African family farm success stories, catch the @Landbouweekliks series on ViaTV, DStv-channel 147, which is proudly sponsored by AFGRI. One of the family farms featured recently was the Genade Farm in Douglas in the Northern Cape, which belongs to the Bruwer family. Here world-class farm management is carried out by Vickie Bruwer and his three sons.


Pollard to lead Vodacom Bulls in Buenos Aires, Libbok to start

Handre Pollard will lead the Vodacom Bulls in Buenos Aires when they take on the Jaguares in their crucial Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Estadio Jose Amalfitani.


Pollard takes over the captaincy from Burger Odendaal, one of three players out injured from the team that beat the Cell C Sharks in Pretoria last weekend and will slot in at inside centre. This will hand a starting debut to Manie Libbok at flyhalf.


Libbok made six appearances off the bench for the Vodacom Bulls already.


Injured lock, Lood de Jager, will be replaced by Jason Jenkins who will partner RG Snyman for the first time this year.


The flanker berth vacated by Jenkins will be filled by Thembelani Bholi, with Handre Stassen taking over the impact role Bholi had against the Cell C Sharks.

Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell named Trevor Nyakane as loose head in place of the injured Lizo Gqoboka, with Conrad van Vuuren moving into the no three jersey.


Former Junior Springbok, JT Jackson, has been named on the bench and will make his Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Super Rugby debut if he takes to the field.


“This is a nice challenge for us. We have belief in what we do and where we want to go and that will motivate us on Saturday. The injuries are part of rugby and we need to adapt to play without those three players. Rugby is a team effort anyway and this gives the likes of Manie, JT and Hendre a nice opportunity to express themselves.”


The team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (29, 55), Travis Ismaiel (36, 50), Jesse Kriel (56, 55), Handre Pollard (c; 42, 379), Johnny Kotze (30, 30), Manie Libbok (6, 2), Ivan van Zyl (13, 0), Marco van Staden (11, 5), Thembelani Bholi (25, 5), Roelof Smit (23, 10), RG Snyman (34, 10), Jason Jenkins (37, 35), Conraad van Vuuren (12, 0), Adriaan Strauus (154, 95), Trevor Nyakane (89, 15). Replacements: Jaco Visagie (31, 5), Mox Mxoli (4, 0), Frans van Wyk (11, 0), Hendre Stassen (2, 0), Nic de Jager (24, 15), Andre Warner (10, 10), JT Jackson (0, 0), Divan Rossouw (9, 15).

Dié boere neem die voortou met Borans in SA

Landbouweekliks kuier vandeesweek by Simeon en Jarren Hurwitz. Hulle boer op die plase Hamelfontein en Uitzicht naby Ermelo in Mpumalanga. B. Hurwitz Farming (genoem na hul oupa) het die grootste geregistreerde Borankudde in Suid-Afrika. Hulle het ook een van die grootste voerkrale in Mpumalanga en kan enige tyd van 3 000 tot 8 000 speenkalwers afrond.


The Vodacom Bulls catapulted themselves into playoff contention with their 39-33 win (halftime 22-17) against the Cell C Sharks in Round 13 of Vodacom Super Rugby at Loftus Versfeld.

It was the Cell C Sharks who challenged the scoreboard first as fullback Curwin Bosch crossed the whitewash but his efforts were disallowed due to his tripping of fullback Warrick Gelant in the build-up and was shown a yellow card for his efforts.

The Vodacom Bulls made good use of the resulting penalty as the ball was shuffled down the line to outside centre Jesse Kriel who grubbered the pill past the defence to a flying Gelant who scored a converted try.

Kriel continued his fine form as he received the final pass and brushed off a defender to score moments later.

The visitors got onto the board courtesy of Bosch who received an offload in the 23rd minute. Flyhalf Robert du Preez converted to cut the deficit to five points.

The men in light blue were not done with scoring tries as wing Travis Ismaiel did well to stay infield long enough for flank Roelof Smit to scoop up the ball and score.

The Vodacom Bulls found themselves on the wrong side of the referee as lock RG Snyman was sin binned for a late tackle and the Cell C Sharks capitalised on their advantage as flank Jacques Vermeulen scored a converted try.

Pollard and Bosch traded penalties in the dying minutes of the first half as the teams headed to the sheds with the Vodacom Bulls leading 22-17.

The Cell C Sharks started the second half like a house on fire as Du Preez sunk two penalty goals to take the lead for the first time but his efforts were nullified as wing Johnny Kotze received a pop pass from Gelant to score in the corner in the 55th minute.

The visitors suffered their second yellow card of the match as outside centre Lukhanyo Am was ordered off after tackling a player in the air.

Lock Lood de Jager scored the Vodacom Bulls’ fifth try as he used his tall timber to reach out and score in the 67th minute. Pollard converted and added a penalty to gift his team a 39-23 lead with 11 minutes left on the clock.

Springbok flank Jean-Luc continued the ding dong affair as he dotted down a minute later as the Cell C Sharks registered third third try.

Kriel almost bagged his brace only to be denied by the TMO for an earlier infringement in the 75th minute.

With the clock run out, the Cell C Sharks slotted a penalty to earn a bonus point as the Vodacom Bulls secured a 39-33 win at Loftus Versfeld.




Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Warrick Gelant, Jessie Kriel, Roelof Smit, Jonny Kotze, Lood de Jager; Conversions: Handre Pollard (4); Penalty: Pollard.

Cell C Sharks – Tries: Curwin Bosch, Jacques Vermeulen, Jean-Luc du Preez; Conversions: Robert du Preez (2); Penalties: Du Preez (3), Bosch.



Lessons were learnt in the Vodacom Bulls 29-17 loss to the DHL Stormers last weekend with the Capetonians controlling the match upfront. The men from Pretoria have reloaded and will be looking for blood as they keep one eye on the knockout stages of the competition.

It was not all doom and gloom for the Vodacom Bulls as they continue to play an attractive brand of rugby with the team attacking with intent. An area of concern will be defending directly after they have scored as it is in this area that they’ve struggled in recent weeks.

But in fairness, nothing can be taken away from the performance of the DHL Stormers on the day. They look a completely different side when they play on their home ground and having captain, Siya Kolisi, celebrating his 100th cap gave them that extra bit of motivation to get the job done.


The Vodacom Bulls will want to return to winning ways at Loftus Versfeld when they host the Cell C Sharks in Round 13 of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The Cell C Sharks have kept a relatively unchanged match day squad from the one that beat the Highlanders last weekend with head coach, Robert du Preez, making only two changes.

Flank Jacques Vermeulen comes in for Philip van der Walt on the side of the scrum while hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle will warm the bench in place of Franco Marais.

The Vodacom Bulls will have to contend with another opposing team milestone as Ralepelle will play in his 100th Vodacom Super Rugby match should he come off the bench while barnstorming inside centre, Andre Esterhuizen, will earn his 50th cap and the visitors will want to make it a winning memory for them.

The Vodacom Bulls welcome back wing Travis Ismaiel and prop Trevor Nyakane as head coach, John Mitchell, adjusted his team ahead of this crucial derby. Marco van Staden starts at no.8 with Thembelani Bholi joining Divan Rossouw on the bench.



The Vodacom Bulls return to Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 12 May as they host their KZN counterparts, the Cell C Sharks in what is lining up to be another epic South African derby.

Supporters will be part of something special at Loftus Versfeld as the Vodacom Bulls will do their part in raising awareness for the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund, who assist catastrophically injured rugby players to be able to live fulfilling lives.

The rugby loving public are sincerely asked to donate via the dedicated SMS line (SMS “Rugby” and your name to 49701 at R30/SMS – network and admin fees apply) or to the Vodacom Blue Bulls players who will walking around with collection tins. Every bit counts and the #BullsFamily can go a long way in assisting this great cause.

Vodacom’s Smiles for Tries is an initiative close to the Vodacom Bulls’ hearts, and will be looking to increase their contributions with a few more tries (Vodacom donates R3000 for every try scored by a South African team). We are also proud to announce that young Adriaan de Jongh, a 7-year-old recipient of the foundation, and a dear friend to the Vodacom Bulls will be leading the team out on Saturday afternoon.

There will not only be rugby to watch but the little ones can burn off some energy in the extended kids’ corner on the D Field, with our customised giant inflatable and tonnes of kids activities.

Loftus Versfeld has not forgotten the adult supporters who can enjoy a refreshment in the beer garden on the D field before the game. Our all new Castle Corner is a great way to enjoy your Vodacom Bulls experience, and the only place at Loftus that you can indulge in ice cold beer while watching the game (other than in a suite). No U18s and tickets must be pre-purchased.

We encourage you to make use of the safe and secure parking at Loftus Park. Parking tickets cost R100 and is the perfect way to start your afternoon at Loftus Versfeld as the Vodacom Bulls take on the Cell C Sharks in Round 13 of Vodacom Super Rugby.

Ivor Price at NAMPO 2018

Visit AFGRI at NAMPO Stand H2. From 15 – 18 May 2018


’n Man wat herlewingslandbou eet, slaap en boer

In dié episode van Landbouweekbliks word klem gelê op herlewingslandbou. Ons kuier by Hannes Otto, ’n stigterslid van die Ottosdal-geenbewerkingsklub. Hannes boer al 40 jaar op die familieplaas in Noordwes. Dit is ’n harde mieliewêreld met min reën en moeilike grond. Misoeste is daar ’n groter werklikheid as elders in die land. Hulle moet dus deurgaans planne beraam om te kan oorleef.

Warner to start for Vodacom Bulls in Cape Town

Andre Warner will start at scrumhalf for the Vodacom Bulls against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday in their crucial Vodacom Super Rugby clash at DHL Newlands. Cape Town-born Warner comes in for Ivan van Zyl, who will play off the bench.

The halfback started the first four matches of the competition before picking up an injury and has made some solid contributions off the bench since, including a try against the Rebels two weeks ago.

The much-anticipated North/South derby will test the Vodacom Bulls, head coach, John Mitchell, said.

“There are more than log points to play for. We are always striving to improve on our previous effort and to grow as a team. That will again be the case. This will be as tough as SA derbies go, no doubt, which will be a good test for our discipline and game management.”

Burger Odendaal, who will captain the Vodacom Bulls for the eighth time this year, said the team is looking forward to the challenge.

“Playing the Stormers is always a special challenge, playing them at Newlands even more so. We love to test ourselves against our peers and this will be such an occasion. I am confident that we will deliver a performance that we and our supporters can be proud of.”

The provisional team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (27, 50), Johnny Kotze (28, 25), Jesse Kriel (54, 50), Burger Odendaal (c, 40, 15), Divan Rossouw (8, 15)/Travis Ismaiel (34, 50), Handre Pollard (40, 358), Andre Warner (8, 10), Thembelani Bholi (23, 5)/Marco van Staden (9, 5), Jason Jenkins (35, 30)/Thembelani Bholi (23, 5), Marco van Staden (9, 5)/Roelof Smit (21, 5), Lood de Jager (58, 15), RG Snyman 32, 10), Trevor Nyakane (89, 15), Adriaan Strauss (152, 95), Lizo Gqoboka (35, 10).

Replacements: Jaco Visagie (29, 5), Frans van Wyk (9, 0)/Nqobisiwe Mxoli (2, 0), Conrad van Vuuren (10, 0), Hendre Stassen (2/0)/Roelof Smit (21, 5), Ivan van Zyl (11,0), Manie Libbok (5, 2), Divan Rossouw (8, 15)/Travis Ismaiel (34, 50).


Adriaan Strauss will extend his South African record for Vodacom Super Rugby matches to 153.