UNIGRO and GroCapital suspend eAccounts fees during lockdown

Dear valued client,

31 March is UNIGRO and GroCapital Financial Services year-end and is usually the time of year when we communicate our fee increases to you. However, this year is anything but usual, and has called on us to make an unusual decision.

UNIGRO and GroCapital Financial Services is pleased to announce that it will suspend eAccounts fees for April 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and delay its other fee increases until lockdown is over and things return to normality. We understand the severity of the lockdown and the task that lies ahead for farmers and food producers to continue to produce food for South Africa. We hope that this small gesture will alleviate some of your financial pressure. This zero eAccount fee could be extended should the lockdown endure for longer than 21 days, but you will be kept informed of developments.

For those customers not yet using the eAccounts system who would like to join, the same suspended fee structure applies.

We care about our customers and trust that you have all the necessary structures in place to look after yourself, your loved ones and those working in your business to ensure the critical functioning of food availability in South Africa.

Thank you for your support and for embracing food production in South Africa. We hope your free use of our eAccounts platform during this time will make your financial administration just a little bit easier.

 

Please be safe during this time

 

Kind regards

 

Ross Simmonds

MD, UNIGRO Financial Services

UNIGRO en GroCapital skrap eAccounts-fooie tydens afsonderingsperiode

Geagte kliënt,

 

UNIGRO en GroCapital Finansiële Dienste se boekjaar eindig 31 Maart en dit is normaalweg in hierdie tyd wat ons fooi-aanpassings aan u deurgee. Vanjaar is egter alles behalwe normaal en dit het ons genoop om ‘n buitengewone besluit te neem.

 

Dit is vir UNIGRO en GroCapital Finansiële Dienste aangenaam om te kan aankondig dat ons eAccounts-fooie vir April 2020 opgeskort het weens die afsonderingsperiode teen COVID-19. Die implementering van ander fooiverhogings word uitgestel totdat die afsonderingsperiode verby is en die situasie na normaal teruggekeer het. Ons het begrip vir die erns van die situasie en die taak wat vir boere en voedselverwerkers voorlê om voort te gaan met voedselproduksie vir Suid-Afrika. Ons hoop hierdie gebaar sal van jou finansiële druk verlig. Die afskaffing van eAccount-fooie kan verleng word, sou die afsonderingsperiode langer as 21 dae duur, maar sal u tydig daarvan in kennis gestel word.

 

Dieselfde fooistruktuur sal van krag wees aan ons kliënte wat nog nie die eAccounts-stelsel gebruik nie en graag wil aansluit.

 

Ons gee om vir ons kliënte en vertrou dat u die nodige strukture in plek het om na u geliefdes, werknemers en belange om te sien om volgehoue voedselsekerheid in Suid-Afrika te verseker.

 

Dankie vir u ondersteuning en u verbintenis tot voedselproduksie in Suid-Afrika. Ons hoop die gratis gebruik van ons eAccounts-platform gedurende hierdie tyd sal u finansiële bestuur ‘n bietjie makliker maak.

 

Wees asseblief veilig gedurende hierdie tyd

 

Beste wense

 

Ross Simmonds

Besturende Direkteur, UNIGRO Financial Services

Brief Aan Kliente

25 Maart 2020

 

Geagte kliënt,

 

 

Suid-Afrika gaan vanaf Vrydag 27 Maart 2020 (vanaf Donderdagaand om middernag) in algehele afsondering om die verspreiding van die nuwe koronavirus te probeer stuit. Die verpligte afsondering sal vir 21 dae van krag wees (“die afsonderingsperiode”).

 

 

Gedurende hierdie tyd moet alle besighede en dienste sluit, behalwe vir die beperkte lys ondernemings wat vrygestel is, omrede dit as noodsaaklik geag word vir die gesondheid en veiligheid van Suid-Afrikaners (“vrygestelde besighede en dienste”).

 

 

Die vrygestelde besighede en dienste sluit in:

 

  • Landbou- en voedselverwante bedrywighede, boerdery, veeartsenykundige dienste en fitosanitêre verskaffers, plaagbeheerdienste, chemiese – en kunsmisverskaffers.

 

  • Vervaardigers en prosesseringsfasiliteite van voedselprodukte, drinkbare vloeistof en noodsaaklike produkte.

 

  • Pakhuise, vervoer en logistiek van voedsel, noodsaaklike produkte en gesondheidsverwante goedere.

 

  • Hawens, sowel as pad- en spoornetwerke sal oop bly om die in- en uitvoer van noodsaaklike produkte te fasiliteer.

 

  • Afsetpunte van voedsel – klein- en groothandelaars, spaza-winkels en inkopiesentrums vir voedsel en noodsaaklike produkte.

 

  • Kritiese bank- en finansiële dienste.

 

 

Hoewel ons wag vir die gepubliseerde gedetailleerde regulasies in terme van die Wet op Rampbestuur, is dit duidelik dat die hele voedselwaardeketting as ‘n noodsaaklike bedryf beskou word, en deel is van die vrygestelde besighede en dienste.

 

 

Die AFGRI Groep, insluitend sy filiale, is deel van die groter voedselwaardeketting.

 

 

Daarvolgens sal die volgende besighede en dienste in die AFGRI Groep operasioneel bly tydens die afsonderingsperiode:

 

 

  1. Alle graansilo’s en -bunkers

 

  1. Alle AFGRI Meganisasietakke en dienste

 

  1. Alle UNIGRO finansiële dienste, insluitend e-Accounts

 

  1. Alle voedselverwerking en vervaardigingsfasiliteite, insluitend AFGRI Veevoere en AFGRI Meulens

 

  1. Hinterland (AFGRI Town and Country) handelstakke.

 

 

Ons werknemers sal toegelaat word om te reis en hierdie dienste aan u te voorsien.

 

 

Ons sal te alle tye verantwoordelik en volgens die regulasies van die Wet op Rampbestuur optreel en indien die situasie verander, sal ons u kontak. Werknemers wie se teenwoordigheid by hul normale werksplek nie as noodsaaklik beskou word nie, sal van die huis af werk. Hetsy hulle van die huis of kantoor af werk, sal hulle steeds bereikbaar wees en poog om dieselfde dienste en produkte te lewer as waaraan u gewoond is.

 

 

Ons kliënte en werknemers se gesondheid en veiligheid is van kardinale belang. Dit is egter ook belangrik om te beklemtoon dat die AFGRI Groep van maatskappye, ons werknemers en ons kliënte deel is van die groter voedselwaardeketting, wat met rede as noodsaaklik beskou word in die land se stryd teen die Covid-19-pandemie. Dit is ‘n voorreg, maar ook ‘n reuse verantwoordelikheid.

 

 

Laastens, wil ons u verseker dat die AFGRI Groep oor die bedryfsplanne en menslike hulpbronne beskik om die nodige ondersteuning aan u, ons gewaardeerde kliënt, te bied in hierdie onseker tye.

 

 

Ons sal voortgaan om met u te kommunikeer oor enige verwikkelinge, insluitend op ons sosiale media-kanale en ons webtuiste.

 

Tinus Prinsloo

 

WNDE UITVOERENDE HOOF: AFGRI GROEP

Draft Essential and Critical Business Continuity Services during lockdown.pdf

View or download the document here.

STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA ON ESCALATION OF MEASURES TO COMBAT COVID-19 EPIDEMIC

View or download the statement here.

Grain Management Communication

Dear customer

AFGRI Grain Management’s grain services and grain trading will continue during the COVID-19 lockdown.

We are aligned with the statement of President Ramaphosa on March 23, 2020, and as part of the agro food value chain, will continue to operate as outlined under the “Essential Services” definition, specifically “Food & essential products – related manufacturing and processing, and distribution”.

Please remember that access to accounts, grain contracts and supplies is available through our e-Accounts platform.

Further, given these trying times, we must strive to minimise exposure between our employees and our customers, so where possible, please communicate your needs by phone, email, WhatsApp or SMS to your Silo Manager and/or Grain Marketer.

For any queries, please contact your Silo Manager or Grain Marketer.

Stay healthy!

 

Communication from AFGRI Group Holdings during the lockdown period

Dear valued client

South Africa will go into a national lockdown on Friday, 27 March 2020 (immediately after midnight on Thursday) to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The shutdown will last for 21 days (“the lockdown period”).

During that time, all businesses and services must shut down other than a list of exempted businesses that are considered critical to supporting the health and safety of South Africans (“exempted businesses and services”).

The exempted business and services include:

• Agricultural and food supply related operations, farming, veterinary and phytosanitary provider services, pest control services, and chemical and fertilizer providers.
• Food, beverages and essential products manufacturing and processing facilities.
• Warehousing, transport and logistics for food and essential products, and health-related goods.
• Ports, and road and rail networks will remain open in order to facilitate the import and export of essential products.
• Food outlets – retail, wholesale, spaza shops and malls for food and essential products.
• Critical banking and financial services.

Although we await the detailed regulations to be published in terms of the Disaster Management Act, it is clear that the entire agro-food value chain is considered an essential industry, and forms part of the Exempted Business and Services.

AFGRI Group Holdings, including its subsidiaries, forms part of the agro-food value chain.

Accordingly, the following businesses and services in the Group will continue operating during the lockdown period:
1. All grain silos and bunkers
2. All AFGRI Equipment branches and services
3. All UNIGRO financial services, including e-accounts;
4. All food processing and manufacturing facilities, including AFGRI Animal Feeds and AFGRI Milling
5. Hinterland (AFGRI Town and Country) retail branches

Our employees will be allowed to travel to provide these services to you.

We will continue to act lawfully and responsibly in accordance with the Disaster Management Act and its regulations and if anything changes we will contact you. Employees who are not deemed essential to be in the office or their normal place of work, will work from home. However, whether they work from home or from their normal workplace, they will continue to be contactable and provide you with the same services and products you are accustomed to.

Our clients’ and employees’ health and safety are paramount. It is also, however, important to appreciate the fact that the AFGRI Group of companies, our employees and our clients form part of the agro-food sector, which has rightfully been recognised as essential to the country fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a privilege, but also a huge responsibility.

Lastly, we wish to ensure you that the Group has the operational plans and human resources necessary to support you, our valued client, in these trying times.

We will continue to keep you updated with regards to any developments, including on our social media channels and our website.

Tinus Prinsloo
Acting Group CEO

A Message to the Agriculture and Food Sector of South Africa

Speaking notes by Ms. Thoko Didiza, MP Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

 

A Message to the Agriculture and Food Sector of South Africa
24 March 2020

 

As you may be aware, that last night the President announced measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which include a 21-day lockdown.

Several businesses will be affected, but the agriculture and food supply sector is one of essential systems for livelihood and therefore will remain operational. Our food supply system will remain functional during this period. Agricultural production in all its forms will remain uncompromised. This includes all services including provision of veterinary and advisory services. Live auctions of livestock and sale of other agricultural commodities will continue but under the strict conditions a prescribed by the President. Exports and imports of critical agriculture commodities and the logistical measures will continue during this lock down period to ensure global and national food security.

This is not only limited to retailers but the entire food value chain, from farm-related operations, agro-processing and food manufacturing, logistics and related services, wholesale and retail services, and all support functions that ensure efficient delivery of the agro-food system.

As a nation, we boast for being self-sufficient in food production, and a part of this year’s supply is yet to be harvested – which promises to be a bumper field crop and citrus harvest – and these processes will continue as normal as a foundation of South Africa’s food system. I will be making regular updates on crop estimates to inform the country of our critical commodity supply. To ensure that we do not have inflated prices in the sector. Food price monitoring will be conducted on critical food basket commodities and reports will be given to the nation on regular bases.

The Department has set aside a package of R1.2 billion to address effects of the corona virus and ensure sustainable food production post the pandemic. The Department soon will make the details of this package together with the application channels available. The Department has also availed R100 million to the Land Bank to assist farmers under distress.

Together with the industry we are working on a sector operational procedures that would ensure adherence to the measures announced by the President this includes the provision of sanitation to employees within the sector especially farm workers.

We urge the food value chain role players to strictly comply and adhere to strict health regulations to contain and arrest COVID-19 as we strive to supply food to the nation.

I appeal to the public not to embark on panic buying, as the President has indicated. The country has sufficient food supplies. Panic buying will only cause disruptions and inconvenience in the food system. I urge you, fellow-citizens, to also be considerate and purchase that which is sufficient for your needs.

To wholesalers and retailers, we urge you not to engage in price gouging, at such a crucial time for the country. You have an important role to play in the supply of food, and the fight against COVID-19. We ask that you continue to serve the nation and help ensure food security at this critical juncture.

Ends

AFGRI Agri Services, Kagiso Trust and Potatoes South Africa join forces to support new era potato farmers

Monday, 10 February 2020 –AFGRI Agri Services, Kagiso Trust (through the Tyala Impact Fund) and Potatoes South Africa (“PSA”) today signed a ground-breaking agreement aimed at addressing the major challenges faced by South Africa’s new era farmers – access to technical support, access to finance and access to markets. The agreement will give rise to a sustainable solution that will involve the co-operation of three reputable players in their field of expertise to provide a holistic approach to these challenges.

 

Whilst initially focused on potato farming in South Africa, with the aim of establishing commercial new era potato farmers, the solution will not be limited to potatoes in the longer term, with the intention being to establish commercial new era farmers in other export crops, including avocados, grapes and apples.

 

“South Africa’s land reform process is likely to not yield the desired success if support for new era farmers does not improve considerably. Without structured support and appropriate funding, new era farmers who venture into commercial farming are bound to fail, given that commercial farming is a capital-intensive business requiring specific knowledge and support. The battle to secure support has already forced many struggling new era farmers to rent out their land to established farmers,” says Mankodi Moitse, the CEO of Kagiso Trust, one of South Africa’s leading development agencies. “If this is left unchanged, South Africa is likely to see more new era farmers being forced out of the commercial agricultural space, which will render the land reform process futile.”

 

According to Mrs Moitse, the timing of the solution was therefore opportune. “Given the potential role of agriculture in economic transformation and food security, Kagiso Trust also wants to extend its contribution beyond education and other development interventions to agriculture. As such, Kagiso Trust set up the Tyala Impact Fund, so this agreement ticked all the boxes.”

 

One of the key elements of the solution is training. According to Jacob de Villiers, the CEO of AFGRI Agri Services, new era farmers often lack good, technical ‘hands on’ training. “Through Lemang Agricultural Services, we deliver support to new era farmers aimed at improving productivity through advice, information and other critical support services. However, what has made our training and development programmes stand out in terms of the successes achieved is the support given to new era farmers by experienced mentors, who are literally in the fields training the farmers, and with them virtually every step of their development journey.”

 

Under the co-operation agreement, Lemang Agricultural Services will provide joint technical assistance and training with PSA on potatoes as well as rotational crops. Lemang’s assistance will further include co-funding – through AFGRI Agri Services’ financial services arm, UNIGRO – as well as training and mentorship in order to develop new era farmers to become full participants in the commercial agriculture value chain and to be part of the agricultural mainstream.

 

UNIGRO MD Ross Simmonds says that there is still relatively little appropriate financial support available to new era farmers. “Financiers struggle to provide funding to these farmers, given their lack of financial history and access to equity, amongst others. However, given the mentorship provided through Lemang Agricultural Services and PSA, the financial support of the Tyala Impact Fund, and UNIGRO’s deep agricultural finance knowledge, we are able to assist. Solutions can only be found through partnerships between companies committed to the sustainability of the South African agricultural sector.”

 

Access to markets is another significant requirement, and here is where both PSA and AFGRI Agri Services will be key. PSA CEO, Andre Jooste, says that required off-take agreements, i.e. the assurance from a business that it will buy the new era farmer’s produce, is vital. “Both PSA and AFGRI Agri Services have access to networks that include suppliers and technical partners in the co-op space to facilitate the required off-take agreements.”

Jooste explains that the PSA and commercial potato producers are no stranger to the development of new era farmers, and already contribute to ensuring that these farmers gain commercial producer status through PSA’s Enterprise Development programme. “The number of hectares supported by the programme increased from 37 hectares to 320 hectares over a period of eight years. During this time, two farmers, one in Limpopo and one in the Eastern Cape, graduated to commercial status, each planting more than 30 hectares of potatoes.”

 

He adds that it is imperative to establish successful partnerships with key role players in the potato value chain and beyond to support new era farmers.

 

Finally, and perhaps most critically, is access to funding, especially affordable funding. UNIGRO will be the commercial debt financier but will require the equity gap to be plugged. “This is where the Tyala Impact Fund comes in, providing funding at development returns. In addition, the extremely low average funding rate between UNIGRO’S senior debt interest rate and Tyala’s development interest rate provides an affordable repayment debt profile for new era farmers – leaving them with a sustainable farming operation yet access to cash to fund their lifestyle,” explains Teresa le Roux of Ukunika Investments, which developed and proposed the solution, and is working on other, similar initiatives in the agricultural space.

 

“We are all very excited at this unique opportunity to work together to improve the lot of new era farmers in our country and are looking forward to making a tangible and sustainable difference to the South African agricultural sector,” concludes de Villiers.

AFGRI Technology Services forms partnership with Aerobotics, world-leading agritech tree crop data analytics company

Centurion, 2 October 2019 – AFGRI Technology Services (ATS), the strategic innovation and growth division of AFGRI Agri Services, has partnered with Aerobotics, the Cape Town based start-up that processes data from drone and satellite imagery through its proprietary artificial intelligence software to bring the latest technology to a broader section of South Africa’s farmers.

The partnership aims to provide critical tools to support the growing market of tree crop farmers to ensure they are optimising how they make decisions, manage risk and operate their farming business.

“Our customers stand to benefit from Aerobotics’ tools, which are used for general farm management and to discover and analyse problems affecting individual trees, to proactively manage pests and disease outbreaks as well as monitoring tree crop health and optimising their yields,” says AFGRI Agri Services CEO, Jacob de Villiers.

According to Niki Neumann, GM for Strategy & Innovation at AFGRI Agri Services, Aerobotics has seen good traction and growth in the tree crop market in South Africa and abroad. “Their focus on a superior product experience and customer service has put them strides ahead of their competitors. We look forward to working with dynamic, disruptive companies like Aerobotics to bring only the best-of-breed solutions to our farmers.”

Neumann adds that the Aerobotics tool was introduced to AFGRI Agri Services employees during August, and that some farmers have already been introduced to the company and its capabilities through ATS’ Future Farmers Forum, an initiative aimed exclusively at forward-thinking early adopters in the agricultural sector with the sole goal of connecting South Africa’s farming community with the latest in agricultural technology.

“By working with start-ups like Aerobotics, we can encourage a truly tech-enabled sector in South Africa that promotes sustainable, responsible and efficient food production, with a focus on increased productivity and data-driven decision making.”

Aerobotics Head of Sales for Africa, Vic van den Berg, is excited about the partnership as an opportunity to bring their farm management software to a larger market. “Our team is consistently working on product updates and features with the key objective being to save our farmers all over the world time and money through our early-stage pest and disease detection software – which gets smarter by the day. This partnership means that we will be able to add value to more farmers with our data-driven software, which ensures that farmers can make smart, data-driven decisions when it comes to their crops’ health and yields.”

 

About AFGRI Agri Services

AFGRI Agri Services is a leading agricultural services company with core competencies to enhance, support and guide the growth of agricultural enterprises. It provides services across the entire grain production and storage cycle, offering financial support and solutions as well as inputs and hi-tech equipment through the John Deere brand supported by a large retail footprint. Lemang Agricultural Services was established to train, develop and mentor new era farmers with a focused service in the further development of commercial black farmers in South Africa. AFGRI Agri Services is part of the AFGRI Group, the  investment holding company with interests in a number of food, agriculture and financial services related companies providing products and services to ensure sustainable agriculture and food security.

About AFGRI Technology Services (ATS)

ATS is the strategic growth and innovation division of AFGRI Agri Services. Catalysing growth through superior strategy, insights, technology and innovation across the agricultural value chain, with the vision to introduce solutions that solve agriculture’s biggest challenges and enable food security. Visit www.afgritechnologyservices.com for more information.

 

About Aerobotics

Based in Cape Town, Aerobotics was co-founded by James Paterson (CEO) and Benji Meltzer (CTO) and combines aerial imagery obtained from satellites and drones with its machine learning algorithms to provide early problem detection services to farmers, helping them to monitor their crops, receive early warning of potential risks, and optimise yields. Aerobotics provides farmers with accurate statistics on their trees and vines and allows them to use its management zones to plan planting. It now operates across hundreds of farms in 11 countries throughout the world, has commanded 40% and 20% of South Africa’s macadamia nut and citrus markets respectively, has won numerous awards including Best Technology Company of 2019 at Africa Tech Week, and has raised two funding rounds totalling US$2.6million.

Visit www.aerobotics.com for more information.