AFGRI, one of the continent’s leading agricultural services company with core competencies to enhance, support and guide the growth of agricultural enterprises, will be at NAMPO again this year, using the unique opportunity that Africa’s foremost agricultural event offers to showcase some of the enhancements that have taken place across the business in the past 12 months.
“This is a larger AFGRI than the one that was at NAMPO in 2018, and in our view, a better one,” said AFGRI CEO, Tinus Prinsloo. The enhancements are reflected within many of our solutions, which include AFGRI Grain Management, AFGRI Equipment, UNIGRO Financial Services, Lemang Agricultural Services and more, recently AFGRI Technology Services (ATS).”
An example, added Prinsloo, is Lemang Agricultural Services, the new entity created by AFGRI to support the commercialisation of new era farmers who may have graduated out of the Harvest Time initiative created by AFGRI in 2012 to train, develop and mentor emerging farmers. “Lemang is focused on the further development of commercial black farmers in South Africa and has been created specifically to support large farmers ready to take the final steps towards becoming full-scale commercial farmers, including offering financial assistance.”
This includes an enhanced suite of financial offerings resulting from the acquisition by parent company AFGRI Group Holdings (AGH) affiliate, GroCapital Holdings, of the majority shareholding in the South African Bank of Athens Limited (now Grobank) from the National Bank of Greece S.A., bolstering UNIGRO’s already-strong offering of agricultural finance and insurance, covering both long and short-term insurance.
Of course, the other AFGRI stalwarts will also be at NAMPO, including AFGRI Equipment, which holds the accolade of being the largest John Deere agency in southern Africa and outside of North America, and AFGRI Grain Management. “Both of these businesses have gone from strength to strength in the past year, with AFGRI Equipment having made significant progress in Western Australia, with more than 14 strategically-located branches now in place, as well as having branched into forestry and construction equipment.”
And with AGH having just brought on board three of South Africa’s foremost institutional investors to create a strategic storage platform vehicle, AFGRI Grain Silo Company, with the clear objective of expanding the current storage capacity of some 4,7 million tons to six million tons in the near future, there is no doubt that AFGRI Grain Management will also have a lot to discuss with customers.
AFGRI has also made substantial strides in terms of technology, with AGH having teamed up with specialised financial technology company, Synthesis Software Technologies, to form a joint venture to accelerate the development of innovative solutions in the agricultural technology (AgTech) space. The relationship between the two companies began in 2014 when Synthesis helped to develop UNIGRO’s financial platform, eAccounts. To date there are over 2 000 registered users, who made over R4.5 billion in payments on eAccounts in 2018, reflecting growth in payments of 25% over 2017. The platform has been a major differentiator and competitive advantage for AFGRI.
“Through the JV we will be able to take a longer-term approach to further development of eAccounts, and customers can expect to see more features, more innovation, and more value from the platform through strategic updates.”
Within AFGRI itself, the ATS team has a focus on AgTech and is engaging with our farmers to keep them apprised of the latest innovations in this field, and to develop our own AgTech solutions appropriate for their needs. ATS aims to be the catalyst of innovation and technology-enabled solutions to drive sustainable agricultural growth across the African and global agricultural value chain.
Finally, AFGRI will use the opportunity offered by NAMPO to spread the news about the AFGRI Support Fund with the South African farming community. The Fund was launched recently to support those involved in the agricultural sector who are in dire need of financial assistance. “We want to make a meaningful difference in the areas we operate in, aside from our service and product offerings, as there are times that people just need a partner who cares. We have therefore established this Fund into which we have made an initial injection of R3 million.”
Prinsloo went on to say that he hoped that those so inclined would also contribute towards the Fund, which has been established in order to extend financial support to beneficiaries in the agricultural sector, focusing on those operating within the AFGRI ecosystem and geographic areas. The aim is to grow the Fund to be sustainable into the future as a beacon of agricultural community support.
“The perils of farming are enormous, and to have an organisation that cares enough to lend a helping hand can mean a great deal,” adds Jacob de Villiers, the CFO of AFGRI.
We look forward to seeing you at NAMPO 2019 – please visit us at stand E29.