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The AGRI 5 Virtual Summit is a two day Summit that seeks to address the challenges that have affected the sector due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

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Agri 5 publication 2021 F1

The AGRI 5 Virtual Summit is a two day Summit that seeks to address the challenges that have affected the sector due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Keywords: AGRI Publication

AGRI 5 September 2021

Varied tech solutions required
Progress in agriculture depends
largely on implementing technol-
ogy that can improve yield

Future of smart farming in SA
Technology has completely
transformed agriculture over
the last few decades

SINCE 2013

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At Absa AgriBusiness, we know that we are all connected through the soil. It is the lifeblood that flows
through our communities and opens doors to endless opportunities for shared economic growth. From
feeding to breeding, we understand agribusinesses and their challenges, as if they were our own. That's
why we can offer the banking services and products that clients really need. As a partner in agriculture for
more than 100 years, Absa has gathered a wealth of experience and knowledge in the development of
world-class business operations, focused on all commodities in the sector. Producers rely on us to plan
strategically and empower farming communities of all sizes. Our commitment to this crucial sector is
clear. Whether we stimulate the advancement of the country's flourishing wine industry, or look after the
crops that feed millions, we make the administration and management of your business easier. By making
things easier for our farming communities, we invest in ourselves and empower the economy to grow. For
more information, contact:

Pieter de Jager

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082 463 1577

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01 Letter of thanks
02 Business Profile
05 The future of smart

farming in South Africa

07 Impact of Covid-19 on South
Africa’s farming.

12 Varied tech solutions requir-
ed for small-scale farming

Editorials Offices

Editor: Lerato Makgato Johannesburg
Project Manager: Tsholo Mokobe 325 Rivonia Boulevard, Rivonia,
Sandton, 2128.
Financial Manager: OB Monnye
Cape Town
Business Developer: Moeti Maja Millenium Business Park,
Voice over artist: Elethu Mpengesi Edison Way, Century City,
Cape Town.
Graphics Designer: Cliff Madzenenga

Production Manager: Keabetswe Mangole


Tel: 011 056 6856
Fax: 086 665 5450
Email: [email protected]

24/7 Live Chat Assistance:

Letter from the Managing Director

When Covid-19 struck as a business we had built a
seven years course in the events and exhibition

space. To be honest our business model was fully
exposed and we had to reinvent ourselves. This

meant that all the staff members we had pre

COVID–19, had to be downsized due to the effects
of COVID-19 on the business. Furthermore, we took

a full 360-degree transition to digital services at
Atone Works, and this approach did not require a
full complement of workers.

Unfortunately, we were not able to upskill them as We are excited about the services we offer to
the level of standard and reputation of service as companies, to host their own online events and
business was extremely high it would have meant conferences outside our platforms. We are looking
we would be exposed to a lot of trial and error. forward to the Year 2022 as it will signal more growth for
Nevertheless, a lot of positive can be traced back the business as we continue to offer these services to
to COVID -19 for the business, now we can host a our clientele. The efforts we put towards reinventing the
lot of online meetings with potential and existing business in 2020 and implementing the new strategy
clients, thus cutting down on travel and in 2021, has yielded results, and thus given us the
accommodation costs. As a business our long-term confidence to go into next year with all the knowledge
goal was to always introduce digital solutions to and understanding we have acquired in order to ensure
the farmers and the pandemic made it easier for further growth for the business as previously stated.
the farmers to embrace it.
Tsholofelo Mokobe
Personally, my desire is to see more African farmers Managing Director
using precision farming as many farming tools. Atone Works
Studies indicate that by 2050 the global food
security demand would have increased by 65% and,
the only way for us to ensure that we meet this
demand is for farmers to farm smartly. This will
translate to more yield in a short space of time to
meet these demands.

A special thanks to Toyota Industrial Equipment,

SGS and ABSA for their support. To the Atone Works
team you have been absolutely amazing, and last

but not least thank you to my family for the emotio-
nal support in these trying times no amount of edu-
cation and experience could have prepared us for

this pandemic. God has been good in granting hope
and spiritual peace in all things.

Page 1

Page 2

What We Do

Page 3

The future of smart farming in South Africa

Technology has completely transformed agriculture over the last few decades. These days, producers are integrating everyt-
hing from drones and satellite sensing to genetic modification and, more recently, artificial intelligence (AI) into their operatio-
ns to reduce costs and enhance yield.

In the South African context, a dualistic agricultural economy exists with highly developed commercial players on the one side
and those that practise farming for subsistence purposes on the other. This differs from various other regions across the conti-
nent where there is greater focus on small-scale producers.

Therefore, a fair amount of technology has already been successfully applied in the country – specifically within the commer-
cial sector. The implementation of smart farming technologies over the years has helped producers and growers to achieve
the highest potential in whichever farming activity they choose to undertake.

The more recent introduction of AI is also significantly increasing not just
the quantity, but the quality of produce that we see on our supermarket
shelves. Standard Bank recently financed a citrus producer that is now usi-
ng robotics in its packhouse, which has greatly reduced the time used to
pack those oranges. The use of robotics and camera technologies has also
been applied in the packing and producing of eggs to identify ‘bad eggs’ in
the process. There are also technologies being applied to make sure the
quality and quantity of what is to be produced for a specific market are at
the correct standards.
Climate monitoring technology is being used to ensure that produce for
export markets meets the relevant standards. South African vineyards pl-
ace these monitors – that are almost invisible to the naked eye –onto the
leaves to monitor the temperatures and chemicals in the plants to detect
changes or problems early in the process.

It can be said that the application of technology across South Africa’s agr-
iculture sector is at significant levels. The challenge, however, is to extract
the data generated and int-egrate it successfully into other areas of the
economy, such as financial services.

How technology and data can play a role in
determining finance for agribusinesses

In the old days, a producer’s banking partner would be at the end of the in-
formation chain regarding the crop, while the supplier of inputs (such as
pesticides) might be closer to what was happening at any given time. It
was only when the client started repaying loan facilities that there would
be some indication of a problem, due to a shortfall or whatever the case
may be. However, these days technology and the data it generates can allow
a bank, for example, to be part of that whole process and to be aware of po-

ssible changes in the crop that are taking place at a biological or a climatic level. The bank can then overlay that from a financial
point of view to see what could be done to support the process.
Standard Bank is currently assessing the extent to which we can better track and trace the development of a crop over a period
of time. The aim is to identify early intervention nodes or requirements where something might be going wrong. If some addition-
al treatment, for instance, needs to be given to that crop, the bank will be aware and could finance it at that point in time.

Certainly, when we talk about technologies like drones or satellites, affordability acts as a barrier for smaller or emerging produc-
ers. But the cost factor could be addressed with greater collaboration. As a bank, for instance, we can find some value in terms of
what data can be generated out of satellite technology. The same would be the case for an insurance provider as well as a pest-
icide provider. Joining forces with other parties in the value chain can make those technologies more affordable.

This collaboration must extend to other specialists within the value chain that can assist smaller scale producers with skills and
knowledge transfer. Standard Bank is currently enabling financing for appropriate farming technologies, while working with our
enterprise development unit to make specialists available to small-scale producers to ensure the right technical application is
taking place and to better prepare producers for a digital future.

Source: Nico G, Standard Bank

Page 5


Background · Fresh produce has a limited shelf life, and requires properly fun-
ctioning cold storage to retain marketable quality – this too is a
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockd- major challenge for local small producers
own of many countries – including South Africa – impacts
the day-to-day business of all sectors and poses serious he- · Regarding the livestock sector, demand for meat may decline as
alth risks to South Africans in general. The current uncertain-
ty of markets and resulting global economic slowdown is pu- many consumers are no longer earning their full salaries, while
tting added pressure on South Africa's struggling economy. others are receiving no salary at all. During lockdown, a morato
"The growing impact of COVID-19 coincided with the annou- rium on auctions was declared, so livestock farmers could not
ncement of a 1.4% contraction of our economy and a decline sell or buy livestock easily. They may also experience difficulty
of 7.6% for agriculture in the fourth quar-ter of 2019," observed accessing animal feed and supplements due to possible disru-
Omri van Zyl, Agri SA's executive director. Mr. Van Zyl said that ptions in supply chains.

· The poultry market is of concern as keeping birds on farms for

it is difficult to quantify the economic impact of the pandemic longer than eight weeks eats into producers' profits and may fu-
on South African agriculture, but that supply chain and logisti- rther burden marginal earners
cal disruptions could cause harm to export-driven agricultural · Reduced labour availability: smaller producers may not have th-
subsectors. South Africa's Department of Agriculture, Rural D- e ability to transport needed labour, causing them to cut worki-
evelopment and Land Reform (DARDLR) has provided assur- ng hours or operate at limited capacity
ance that every effort will be made to ensure adequate food
supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. How- · Farmers depend on particular events and gatherings – such as
ever, there is an ever-present threat that while sufficient food
supplies may be available at the national level, access to food "farmers' days" – to access required information. Restrictions on
may become extremely difficult for certain groups. The most the number of people per gathering will limit this needed tool.
vulnerable people are the poor – especially those in remote Telecommunication gaps in rural areas adds to the difficulty of
rural areas of the country. accessing information

Impact on small-scale farmers · The wildlife/game industry is also threatened as well as eco-to-

According to Pertunia Setumo, an Agricultural Economist at urism and agri-tourism industries. South Africa is usually a pop-
ular winter destination for international and local hunters and

FNB Agribusiness, the broader impacts of the pandemic will tourists, contributing millions to the local economy and farmers
put new pressure on small-scale farmers who were already
struggling, among other things, from rising input costs, limit- Response of farmers
ed market access, limited pricing power, and lack of key agr-
iculture and business skills. Indeed, the pandemic may wors- Farmers are using several basic strategies to cope with the cha-
en these pre-existing challenges – though it could also open llenges, including:

• Looking for every possible way to reduce their overall costs in
the lockdown period including cutting jobs, putting staff on le-
up newopportunities. ave, and freezing all new developments.

Existing and compounded challenges • Storing goods for when the economy rebounds
• Living on savings
The following challenges are particularly relevant to farmers: • Using more food products that can be produced “on farm”
• Delaying investments in farm infrastructure
· Transportation of goods and services across provincial boun- • Accessing information via the news media and social media,

daries has been restricted and using platforms like WhatsApp to share it with one another

· Extension services have been put on hold
· Due to restrictions on local sales of alcoholic beverages, cas-

hflows for small-scale wine and spirit producers and beer br-
ewers will suffer. In addition, restrictions on travel and large
gatherings will limit extra income from social events such as
beer festivals, wine-tasting events, and agri-tourism
· Poor market access and low demand on informal trading plat-
forms: market access remains a key pressing issue for South
Africa's smaller producers. Now with movement restrictions on
consumers and sellers, informal traders are maintaining lower-
than normal stocks. Most small growers sell their produce on
informal markets, and reduced activity on these markets pres-
ents challenges for stocks on hand
Photo: Samke Mkize Photo: Ayanda Madlala

Page 6

Response of farmers c) Broadening the types and modalities of support that will
be funded.
At the same time, a couple of economic changes may provide some
measure of relief: d) Extending the deadline for submission of applications.

· Interest rate cut: this will help highly indebted farmers and those This submission was positively received by the Minister, but
has not yet resulted in significant changes.
wishing to acquire more credit. The current prime lending rate of
7.75% per annum essentially makes credit facilities cheaper. Wider measures to fight COVID-19

· Higher demand for staple food items: producers who do have ac- More broadly, South Africa is fighting the pandemic with a
variety of measures. These include
cess to markets may enjoy benefits of higher demand for staple
food items such as white maize by-products and certain staple · Scheduled lockdown levels/phases
vegetables and fruits. Nevertheless, some such commodities ha- · COVID-19 testing and preparation of the health sector
ve seen a decline in demand due to closure of hotels and limit- · Providing and increasing social grants to counter job
ed operation of restaurants
losses and loss of income
Government support
· Distributing equipment like gloves, masks, sanitizer, and
In April 2020, Minister of DARDLR Ms. Thoko Didiza announced the
department's plans to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. It has ring- ventilators
fenced ZAR 1.2 billion for assistance mainly to financially distressed In addition, private industry, NGOs, and CBOs have been
small-scale farmers. Of that total, ZAR 400 million has been alloca- very proactive in distributing masks, food, and other urg-
ted to farmers within the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) ently needed goods. The farming community itself has
programme and the remainder will be channelled to all other farm- directly distributed a lot of food to communities in need.
ers, particularly those active in the following commodity sectors:
Other opportunities for learning and action
· Poultry: day-old chicks, point-of-lay chickens, feed, medication,
The pandemic may also stimulate innovation in small farming,
and sawdust such as:

· Other livestock: feed and medication · Virtual training and coordination of activities: for example,

· Vegetables: seedlings, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and soil an Integrated Farm Planning and Management course for
livestock farmers was launched using distance-learning
correction tools and webinars

· Other commodity sectors will be evaluated on a case-by-case ba- · The future role and function of agricultural support staff

sis, as the department continuously monitors the impact of COVI- is being rethought, for example that of extension workers
D-19 on agriculture at large and soil and water conservation technicians – including
discussion of how best to support farmers in the post-C
Qualifying criteria for farmers OVID-19 world
To take advantage of the announced support, farmers must be:
· Online marketing and selling of agricultural goods and
· South African citizens who have been actively farming for a min-
services may increase. Several successful online livesto-
imum of 12 months and currently in the production season/cycle ck auctions took place during lockdown

· Registered in farmer register, commodity database, or provincial Overall, South African farmers continue to display resilie-

database nce, reflecting the saying in Afrikaans “'n Boer maak 'n

· Communal farmers plan” – that is, farmers are good at devising plans to sur-
· Smallholder farmers with annual turnover between ZAR 50,000
vive and overcome problems. Through it all, the pande-
and ZAR 1 million
mic and its challenges have made many South Africans–
When allocating support, authorities have said they will prioritize
women, youth, and people with disabilities. especially city dwellers feel renewed appreciation for the

Requested improvements by civil society critical role of farmers in providing food for the nation.

Nevertheless, civil society organizations have made a joint subm- Source: WOCAT
ission to the government arguing that the planned support leaves
out many farmers and food producers, including urban and peri-
urban producers whose contributions to food security are essen-
tial but threatened by COVID-19-induced stresses on people, fo-
od production systems, and supply chains. Further, the governm-
ent's focus on food producers appears to exclude producers of
non-food agricultural products, farmers with insecure tenure,
and smaller-scale producers. Finally, the planned relief measures
are limited to conventional agricultural inputs and fail to support
organic or agroecological production systems.The joint submiss-
ion contains alternative proposals to aid small-scale farmers, ce-
ntring on four immediate issues:

a) Broadening the eligibility criteria for applicants

b) Ring-fencing a budget for allocation to resource-poor farmers

Page 7

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Time AGRI 5 Virtual Summit 2021
28th of September 2021
10:45am Programme
12:15pm Company : SGS
Speaker : Rudie Van Zyl
AGRI 5 Topic : The importance of Soil and Water Testing
VIRTUAL SUMMIT Company : Toyota Industrial Equipment
Speaker : Candice Steer
Topic : Forklift Equipment on a farm
Company : Jojo Tanks
Speaker : Juien Smith
Topic : Water Storage Solutions
Company : Wes Grow
Speaker : Ettienne Groenewalt
Topic : Potatoes Seeds

Brought to you by:

Page 9

Varied tech solutions required for
small-scale farming

Progress in agriculture depends largely on implementing techn- ys that there is a lack of understanding in the technology dev-
ology that can improve yield, reduce inputs and increase efficie- elopment world when it comes to the real problems that far-
mers face.
Varied tech solutionsncy. But while commercial farmers in South Africa are increasing

their use of such technology, boosting their businesses further, “We tend to adopt technology that works in other industries,

required for small-scale farmingthose without the means to employ these solutions are falling be- believing it should work in farming too, or any other industry for
hind.Delegates and speakers at the Africa Agri Tech conference that matter,” says Cloete

held earlier this year in Pretoria expressed their concern over the “That’s one of the main reasons we don’t see the traction we
widening gap in production and profitability between those who would like to see in technology uptake. We need to identify the
could afford to implement modern solutions, and those who problems with the farmer and then be creative about solving th-
could not en be creative about solving those problems.”

Lack of money Dr Sifiso Ntombela, chief economist at the National Agricultural

Speaking at the conference, Farmer’s Weekly editor Denene Era- MarketingCouncil, adds that if technologies are not planned for

smus said that developers of technology needed to change their and implementable in the local situation, it won’t be implemen-

mindset about how much disposable income African farmers had ted at allIt is importa-nt for South Africa to be on the developi-

“Cost is a major impeding factor for technology adoption and mec- ng, as well as the consuming, side of technology, “so that we -

hanisation in Africa,” said Erasmus. can get solu-tions that are suited to our circumstances”
“The applicability of technology is also a problem because it can’t
just be imported, with developers expecting to cut and paste soluti- Slow adoption
ons. It needs to be custom-made for the particular challenges fac-
ed by farmers in this region. Distances to ports and roads, for exa- In terms of technology adoption, Cloete says that on a scale
mple, make it very difficult to implement technology. Some farm- of one to 10, South African farmers are at a three.
ers are so far from any kind of road infrastructure that they wou-
ld have to carry fertiliser for several kilometres from where it was “Very few, if any, farmers have the most recent solution ‘kit’ at
delivered to their farms if they wanted to use it.” any given moment, as it’s an ever-evolving and improving worl-
d. Furthermore, in South Africa, the majority of farmers are on a
subsistence or small-scale level.”

Stehan Cloete, director at Agtech Africa, also notes the discon- Technology developers need to realise that they cannot deve-

nect between technology developers and agriculture, and sa- lop tools without understanding the needs of their clients,

Page 11

adds Cloete. He says government that support is an effective so- rned the entire South African cotton industry around and it has
lution to make precision agriculture and technologies affordable. seen unbelievable growth over the past five years.

“In the EU, for example, about 40% of its budget is ring-fenced to “This approach could be the enabler to access finance, as our
support farmers to access more technologies and become enviro- legacy banks cannot invest unsecured and don’t really have the
nmentally sustainable. In South Africa, less than 1,5% of the state appetite for primary agriculture.”
budget is spent on agriculture.” When it comes to mechanisation, notes Cloete, both Fintech
and Agtech solutions are necessary. The latter includes satell-
According to Ntombela, one of the most critical areas where in- ite imagery, growth degree day measurement, and weather, to
vestment is needed is in biological material. This includes acce- enable a yield engine.
ss to seeds and a change in production systems that would inc- “This forecasts yield at any given time within the growing seaso-
rease productivity and efficiency. n,” explains Cloete. “That information, layered with the contract-
ed pricing, enables farmers to make decisions on nutrient app-
“We also require farm equipment suited to a small-scale farmer, lications, for example. “Such a data platform, where all the far-
such as tractors and planters of the right size, drones to better m’s data is collected and third-party experts gain access to se-
manage fields and orchards, and soil testing and seed preserv- gments they are allowed to view, can assist the farmer to make
ation equipment.” informed decisions.”
On a farm of any size, this would help sustain profitability. “This
Financial technology is only really possible if you view all agronomic data and measu-
re data with financial data. From this point of understanding the
Cloete notes that when the focus switches to new entrants to farm on a precision level, you can now further optimise.”
commercial agriculture, financial technology (Fintech) solutions
will come to the fore, as this segment is not yet mature. Start with the basics

“The Fintech solution in itself cannot change the narrative, but with To increase yields and efficiency on a small-scale level, Ntom-
initiatives such as comprehensive mentorship programmes and co- bela advises that farmers start with understanding their soil he-
mplete value chain digitisation, it’s now possible to attract supplier alth and water quality, as well as the quality of seedlings to be
development funds from corporations, as it enables full transparen- planted. “Once these basics are in place, technologies such as
cy over the value chain for every stakeholder drones and precision farming equipment become critical in ter-
ms of applying optimal fer-tilisers, field management, irrigation
The best example is the solution developed by IQ Logistica for and other farm activities,” he says.
their client, the South African Sustainable Cotton Cluster. This tu-
Ntombela cautions that collective buying might not be an ide-
al solution for small-scale farmers due to the significantly diff-
erent needs of each farmer. “This has been illustrated on ma-
ny occasions on land reform farms where group dynamics ha-
ve destroyed good projects. “However, the world is moving to-
wards virtual ownership of equipment, as we’ve witnessed wi-
th Uber and Taxify, where you don’t necessarily have to own
the asset, but can easily access its service through cell phones.
“In Kenya, farmers use their cell phones to hire tractors and pl-
anting equipment on the Ubertractor app. I think this is the fu-
ture for small-scale farmers in South Africa.”

Cloete concludes that, ultimately, technology should be an
enabler and not a solution in itself. “It mostly assists a farmer
to become a precision farmer and to remain so consistently.
The solution is therefore not in a single product, but in a com-
prehensive approach. There are too many elements in com-
mercial farming that a new farmer needs to learn about to si-
ngle out anything”.

Source: Farmers Weekly

Page 12

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