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12 Jul 2021
Chris Roux (middle) with his sons Antonie (left) and Eugene. The brothers started planting chillies in 2017, and their father has taken production to new heights and succeeded on a challenging market.
Chris Roux (middle) with his sons Antonie (left) and Eugene. The brothers started planting chillies in 2017, and their father has taken production to new heights and succeeded on a challenging market.

Chilli Producer Achieves Success with Bio-Farming

Chillies are a difficult crop to market; demand is limited and retailers’ requirements can be tough to meet. Mpumalanga farmer Chris Roux overcomes these challenges by planting a wide and colourful range of chillies and using biological farming techniques. Lindi Botha spoke to him about going the extra mile in production.

The declining profitability of sugar farming prompted Chris Roux, owner of Paradise Creek Farms in Hectorspruit, Malelane in Mpumalanga, to diversify his operation in 2016 by including sweet peppers.

The following year, when his sons Antonie and Eugene were looking for ways to earn some pocket money, they planted a few rows of chillies.
“But we struggled to sell them,” recalls Roux.

“The market is sensitive and if the volumes are too high, there are few buyers. So I looked for a more formal market, approaching packhouses that supplied chillies to supermarkets. We ended up being asked to supply a wide range of chilli varieties on a consistent basis, so we expanded our production.”

The brothers started planting chillies in 2017, and their father has taken production to new heights and succeeded on a challenging market.

Since the cultivation of peppers is similar to chillies, the addition of the spicier variety fitted well into the production cycles on Paradise Creek.

A wide range ...
Paradise Farms has 6ha planted to chillies. These comprise six types and a total of 17 varieties, including cayenne, Habanero, serrano, jalapeño and bird’s eye.
Roux explains that they are still in the process of evaluating which varieties work best on the farm, hence the wide range of chillies within each type.
“I also base my decisions on what the market wants, and on the sizes and colours that are available at certain times of the season. The biggest challenge is to get consistency in the product right through the year, as this is what earns a premium. But this is what we strive for.”
Yields range from 5t/ ha to 15t/ ha, depending on the variety.

Production ...
The Hectorspruit climate is well suited to chilli production, with winter temperatures seldom reaching below 10°C and summer highs of up to 45°C. The seedlings are planted around March, with the chillies harvested from May to December.

The soil is ripped and disced at the start of the season, and compost and gypsum are added at rates of 30t/ha and 1t/ ha respectively. The exact amounts are based on soil analysis.
The compost comprises sugar cane plant waste bagasse, obtained from the nearby sugar mill, and citrus peels from juicing factories.
The composting process has to be managed carefully to produce the optimal balance of temperature, moisture and air for breaking down the materials and killing any harmful pathogens. In particular, the compost must not be too dry, otherwise the beneficial organisms go into dormancy and composting slows down.
“Our soil is quite heavy, and we struggle to get enough aeration, so the compost helps improve the soil structure,” explains Roux.

“We make ridges to improve water drainage and aid aeration. We often get a lot of rain all at once, and it’s important that the roots are not submerged in water for long periods as the trees will drown.”

Seeds are sent to a nursery to germinate, and the seedlings are planted 30cm apart in the row, with a 1,5m inter-row spacing. The type of farm equipment and machinery is also taken into account when calculating the spacing, so that the same tractors and spraying equipment can be used on the chillies and peppers.

Professionally germinated seeds are the key to success, stresses Roux.
“Germinating seedlings is a science of its own, and one needs to choose a nursery very carefully. If the roots are not developed correctly, the plants are weak, which results in lower yield.”

The chillies are drip-irrigated and require approximately one hour of irrigation in winter. This is lengthened as the temperature rises.

“We try to farm biologically as far as possible to keep our maximum residue levels (MRLs) low and so maintain market access. I believe that farming biologically is the best way to do this,” he says.

A key step in the biological farming process is to ensure that enough organic matter is applied to the soil, he adds. Compost feeds beneficial micro-organisms in the soil, increasing their populations and thus helping to protect the plant against soil pathogens. This applies particularly to newly planted seedlings, which are more vulnerable.

“Damping off can also be a problem, so the plant must not be planted too deep,” says Roux.
“If the stem is surrounded by damp soil and remains wet for too long, it develops a fungus and rots off. To counter this, we use Trichoderma fungi to treat the soil at planting, and take care to plant the seedlings level with the soil. Trichoderma fungi work against harmful insects and organisms and feed the plant so that it is more resistant.

Roux and his team also add Metarhizium fungi to the irrigation water and apply it again later as a foliar spray. The fungi act like parasites on harmful insects and effectively disrupt their life cycle.

“The problem is that we struggle with diseases like powdery mildew, which is a fungus. But if we spray a fungicide, it kills beneficial fungis like Metarhizium. This is by far my biggest challenge as a biological farmer: trying to manage the process of growing a good crop without chemicals.”

Roux uses products containing seaweed extract in his irrigation cycle; these act as immune boosters of sorts and strengthen the plant, while feeding beneficial micro-organisms.

Adding Bacillus subtilis bacteria also aids healthy soil and microbial life. All of these help create an ideal environment for the plant, resulting in a strong tree that is pest- and disease-resistant. In this way, the use of chemicals can be greatly reduced, and in some cases eliminated.

Roux laments, however, that while there are many biological product solutions on the market, few people understand how to use them correctly in combination.
“There are products for insects and fungi, but using them in such a way that the beneficial insects and fungi remain, while the harmful elements are eliminated, is a challenge.”

Keeping weeds under control is another hurdle to jump. “We remove the weeds by hand.”

Harvesting is labour-intensive; it requires about 20 people per 10ha and takes place weekly as the plants produce fruit constantly.
“The smaller the chilli, the more is needed to fill a crate, so it can take one picker an entire day to fill two crates. People are paid per kilogram picked, so those who work hard earn more. Each person has a tag that is scanned when the crate is weighed, and the money is allocated accordingly. This makes it easier to budget, as we can see over a season what the harvest has cost us per kilogram, and compare it with income actually received,” says Roux.

Paradise Farms is GlobalGAP-accredited, but as its packhouse is not accredited to pack for supermarkets, the chillies are sorted on the farm and then sent to an accredited packhouse for packing.

Securing a market ...
Roux notes that most chillies produced locally are Thai types sold on the hawker market.
“Some years work out well, others not, depending on how many farmers decided to plant chillies. It’s a small market that’s sensitive to fluctuations in volume.”

Planting for retailers has its own set of difficulties.
“They want a certain type, size and colour at certain times of the year, or even all year round, which is even more challenging. A chilli tree doesn’t produce the same size chilli throughout the season, so we need to have a variety of cultivars and sizes.”

Roux thinks the market for chillies is expanding due to the growing number of South Africans who enjoy hot food.
“Jalapeños didn’t have much of a market before chilli poppers became popular. But overall growth is somewhat limited. We won’t see the same growth as in avocados, for example.

“My advice to new growers is to first find a market and then plant. To plant in bulk and hope you’ll get everything sold seldom works and isn’t sustainable.”

Email : chris@paradisefarms.co.za

Article Credits : Lindi Botha & Farmers Weekly

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10 Jul 2021
Ina Lessing
Ina Lessing

Jams and Preserves - from two pots on a stove to a national supplier.

When Ina Lessing started her home-made jams and preserves business 25 years ago, she had no idea that she would one day be supplying outlets across South Africa.

There is no fruit on this earth that is safe from Ina Lessing. The energetic 65-year-old has a passion for preserving and bottling, and will capture anything in glass, from marulas and makataan (wild watermelon) to quinces, chillies and mangoes.

Her interest in cooking has led her to own and manage a large business that makes and distributes her distinctive Ina Lessing range of jams, preserves, balsamic vinegar, syrups, mustards, chutneys, pickles, jellies, biscuits and rusks to dozens of outlets in Limpopo, Gauteng, the Cape provinces, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

Ina Lessing Jams and Preserves is a testament to the power of innovation and the bonds of family. The business is run from Lusthof, the family farm on the outskirts of Modimolle in Limpopo that belongs to Lessing and her husband, Danie. Her daughters Nicolet and Jana Lessing and Ané van der Walt, and her son Natan Lessing and daughter-in-law Neriché, are all involved in the operation.

The small premises at Lusthof are used to their full extent, with baking taking place in one section, fruit cooking in huge pots in another, sorting in the courtyard, and bottling in a spacious new warehouse that has just been completed.

On the day that Farmer’s Weekly visited the farm, everyone was cooking and bottling fat cling peaches, and in the kitchen, three staff members were stirring the big pots. Lessing’s granddaughter, Romien, on holiday from school, joined in to help Belinda Zuzumbe at the gas stove.

Lessing says that all her children are “intensely interested” in the business, and it is their dedication that is part of the secret to its success. “Danie is our main pillar of strength,” she adds.

A budding business ...
It was 25 years ago that she first thought of the idea of making fruit jams and preserves for sale.
"We started under an afdak [lean-to] with two pots,” she recalls.
“Then we moved to a small room, and then we built a small building and a storeroom when the orders became too big.”

At that stage, they supplied jams and preserves to the nearby Tzaneen and Lowveld areas.
It was a time of drought, and Lessing was working as a domestic science teacher while Danie was farming ostriches.
“There were problems with the ostrich operation, and Danie started helping me source and transport the fruit for the preserving business,” she says.

The produce that goes into the Ina Lessing range comes from the farmers around Modimolle, which is set in the beautiful Waterberg area. But the Lessings have also travelled to the far corners of South Africa to find the best fruit.

In their search for quinces, the couple decided to visit the Western Cape, and so started an annual seven-week pilgrimage to a farm in the Robertson Valley, where they process large quantities of fruit from the area. With apples, apricots, gooseberries, plums, peaches and figs, they are spoilt for choice.

In what Lessing calls “’n verskriklike organisasie” (a terrible amount of organising), the entire operation is uprooted annually for their trek down south.
“We buy bus tickets for all the workers, and put them on the taxi to Pretoria so they can catch the bus to Worcester. There we fetch them and take them to the farm, which is near Robertson.”

The Lessings stay in the farm guest house. “It’s near the storeroom, where we work. While we are away in the Cape, the children carry on at Lusthof, because it’s mango, marula and makataan time.”

Despite the cost and upheaval, preparing and bottling the produce at source works out more profitably and results in a better product.

Speed bumps on the way to success ...
Inevitably, there have been mishaps over the years. For example, they once bought a load of what they thought were makataan, the wild watermelons that make a delicious, crispy preserve when bottled in syrup, but it turned out to be karkoer, a type of wild melon totally unsuited to bottling.

Lessing also experimented with dragon fruit. However, at R600 per crate, this wasn’t a viable proposition.
“That’s very expensive. I also wasn’t that impressed with the end product for making jam,” she says.

Sometimes, ventures that appear exciting at the outset are simply not worth pursuing, and part of being a successful businessperson is knowing in good time which those are.
Another venture that did not pan out involved a marula project for a client in the hospitality industry.
“Before the lockdown, in February last year, there was much interest in marulas for the international market,” says Lessing.
“We started making some juice with the wild fruit, which grows in the area, as well as preserves and chutney made with the marula peels. But the project never saw the light of day due to the lockdown. COVID-19 had a major impact on tourism, which had a big influence on our operation, as we supply a lot of our products to farm stalls and tourism businesses.”

But it is clearly not in her nature to stay knocked down for long. She is excited that they are implementing a new method for sourcing figs this year. From Lessing’s point of view, figs are an especially problematic fruit as they are difficult to transport over long distances.

However, Danie has put his expertise to work and designed specialised shelves for the refrigerated truck. The shelves separate the figs from each other so they do not spoil en route.

Most people would be daunted, if not defeated, by the arrival of a huge truckload of figs, but Lessing says this is what makes her “tick”. She believes that enjoying work is key to staying the course. The same goes for her staff, who number approximately 20 at a time, depending on the season.
“Those who enjoy it, stay,” she says.
As it is hot and stuffy in the kitchen, and even in the outdoor sorting area, not everyone is willing to work under such conditions. But Lessing says that her employees are motivated and love the work. She points out Sarina Setlhare, who has been working on and off for the company, selecting and sorting the best fruit, for 15 years.

Lessing says that another aspect of her success is that she is hands-on in the whole operation, from the kitchen to the sorting area, bottling and packing.

During the hard lockdown, they had to find ways to keep operating, and the business took a serious dip, as did many others in South Africa.
“The workers stayed here on the premises, so they could walk just a few paces to work. We provided three meals a day,” says Lessing.

Handing over ...
She is confident that as she and Danie near retirement age, they can hand the operation over to the children. Natan’s wife, Neriché, is in charge of the farm bakery; Nicolet, an auditor, is taking over production, along with Natan; Jana, an accountant, handles all the finances; and Ané manages the Centurion depot.
All the Lessing siblings have invaluable business skills to bring to the enterprise, but they can also be found doing the hands-on work, such as bottling.
“The children know the business and have 100% integrity, trust and loyalty,” says Lessing.
“This is what makes it successful, and it helps Danie and me to know we can one day hand over with complete peace of mind.”

Visit https://inalessing.co.za.

Article Credits : Yvonne Fontyn & Farmers Weekly

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9 Jul 2021
Covid and the Rise of Organic Farming
Covid and the Rise of Organic Farming

COVID-19 and the Rise of Organic Farming

According to the 2021 statistics yearbook ‘The World of Organic Agriculture’, which presents the latest statistics and emerging trends in organic farming from 187 countries around the world, organic farmland increased by 1,1 million hectares in 2019, and organic retail sales continued to grow.

Organic foods were introduced on a large scale in the early 1990s. It took over 15 years for global organic product sales to reach US$50 billion (R753 billion) in 2008.

In 2018, sales surpassed the US$100 billion (R1,5 trillion) mark. According to the latest data published in the 2021 edition of ‘The World of Organic Agriculture’, with COVID- 19 changing the way people shop and eat, the next leap, to US$150 billion (R2,3 trillion), could be within the next few years.

Global trends ...
The global market for organic food reached US$112 billion (R1,7 trillion) in 2019. The market has expanded by 55% since 2013. The US is the leading market, followed by Germany and France.

In 2019, many major markets continued to show strong growth rates; the French market, for example, increased by more than 13%. Danish and Swiss consumers spent the most on organic food (€344 and €338 [R6 200 and R6 100] per capita, respectively). Denmark had the highest organic market share, with 12,1% of its total food market.

In 2019, a total of 3,1 million organic producers were reported. Fifty-one percent of the world’s organic producers were in Asia, followed by Africa (27%), Europe (14%) and Latin America (7%). India had the highest number of producers (1 366 000), followed by Uganda (210 000) and Ethiopia (204 000).

However, while there were high numbers of producers in India and some African countries, many of these were small-scale farmers, and in terms of land area, the region with the largest portion of global organic agricultural land was Oceania (Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia).

Worldwide, a total of 72,3 million hectares of farmland were managed organically at the end of 2019, representing growth of 1,6% or 1,1 million hectares from 2018. Australia had the largest organic agricultural area (35,7 million hectares), followed by Argentina (3,7 million hectares) and Spain (2,4 million hectares).

Growth in major crop groups ...
Over two-thirds (about 49 million hectares) of organic agricultural land was grassland or grazing areas, having increased by 1,2% in 2019.

With over 13,1 million hectares, arable land constituted 18% of the organic agricultural land. A decrease of 1,7% since 2018 was reported, mainly due to a decrease of organic arable land reported from China. Most of this category of land was used for cereals such as rice.

The significant growth in organic cotton production seen in 2017/2018, when global fibre volumes rose 56%, continued into 2018/2019 with further growth of 31%. Global production reached 239 787t. Estimates show that the current growth trend for organic cotton will continue next year, although to a slightly lesser degree, with 10% growth expected.

Globally, an estimated 222 134 farmers were growing certified organic cotton in 2018/2019, spread across 19 countries and 418 935ha of certified land.

Permanent crops such as olives, coffee, nuts, grapes and cocoa account for 7% of organic agricultural land, amounting to over 4,7 million hectares. This was an increase of over 17 000ha, or 0,4%, over the previous survey.

Africa ...
There were over two million hectares of certified-organic agricultural land in Africa in 2019, which was 177 054ha more (a 9,5% increase) than the year before. Producers numbered at least 850 000. Tunisia was the country with the largest organic area (almost 287 000ha in 2018), and Uganda had the highest number of organic farmers (over 210 000).

The country with the largest organic share of total agricultural land in the region was the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe, with 25% of its agricultural area being organic.

The majority of certified-organic products in Africa are destined for export markets. Key crops are coffee, olives, cocoa, nuts, oilseeds and cotton. Five countries in Africa have legislation on organic agriculture, and five are drafting legislation. Six have a national standard but no organic legislation.

COVID-19: boost for sales ...
The precise impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on organic farming and the demand for organic produce is not yet known; consolidated data for 2020 are expected to show the initial effects of the pandemic on organic markets.

Although North America and Europe generate the most organic sales (about 90%), their share of the total market is shrinking. The coronavirus crisis is predicted to accelerate this trend as more regional markets for organic foods develop.

In particular, the share of developing countries such as China, India, Brazil and Indonesia is likely to grow at a rapid rate in the coming years. As a result of the pandemic, consumers are turning to organic foods as they look more closely at personal health, wellness and nutrition. Organic produce is therefore likely to benefit as the food industry shifts to a post-COVID-19 world.

According to the report, some of the ways in which the pandemic is likely to change the global organic food industry include the deglobalisation of food supply chains, the increasing importance of food security, a move towards traceability and transparency in food supply chains, and the increased importance of online retailing.

Effect on supply chains ...
A large number organic food companies have international supply networks and these
have come under pressure. This was caused by the fact that many of the raw materials used by organic food companies in Europe and North America are produced in other regions.

Lockdowns disrupted these supply chains, highlighting the vulnerabilities of international supply chains.
The supply of raw materials was disrupted as countries took emergency measures. For example, some countries halted exports of agricultural products as they entered lockdown.
The flow of organic ingredients continues to be adversely affected by higher freight and transportation costs and longer delivery times. Organic food companies and ingredient firms have set up international supply chains for their raw materials.

COVID-19 has shown that the winners in the current crisis are those that have kept their supply chains close to home. Operators reliant on organic ingredients from other geographical regions have been the most negatively affected. The way forward appears to be more localised supply chains.

This article is an edited excerpt from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and IFOAM – Organics International’s ‘The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2021’, published in February 2021. 

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8 Jul 2021
Nature Friendly Potato Crops
Nature Friendly Potato Crops

Nature-Friendly Farming Reduces Costs for Potato Farmer

Managing plant health and strict water monitoring have paved the way to success for AL 3 Boerdery in Dendron, Limpopo. CT van der Merwe spoke to Lindi Botha about the production practices that keep his farming business profitable.

Potato production at AL 3 Boerdery is spread across three provinces to ensure a 10-month supply to the markets. Farms in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape provide an annual harvest of between 55 000t and 60 000t, and achieve an average yield of 60t/ha.

The main cultivar grown is Valor, and limited quantities of Georgina, Taisiya, Lanorma, Mondeo, Panamera and Mondial are also produced.

CT van der Merwe, CEO of AL 3 Boerdery, says that it is important to stay up to date with new cultivars on the market, and he therefore plants small quantities of different varieties to test their performance.

Soil Health ...
The key to successful potato production, he stresses, is to maintain soil health. He thus rests the land between crops.
“Because it’s so hot and dry in Dendron in Limpopo, we have the advantage that diseases tend to abate more quickly. However, we struggle to keep healthy organisms alive, which necessitates planting cover crops. And we still have to kill the harmful bacteria,” he explains.

Crops are rotated using two separate cycles: a three-year cycle where potatoes and sorghum are alternated, and a five-year cycle that includes rotations of potatoes, onions, butternut and sorghum.

Van der Merwe adds that water is a limitation on the Dendron farm. This further justifies the planting of cover crops between rotations.
“In the three-year cycle, we plant potatoes in the first year, followed by sorghum, which is left on the land for two years. After this, we plant potatoes again. The sorghum isn’t harvested, but rather used as a cover crop because it’s cheap, tough and doesn’t require added nutrients to flourish. We seed at a rate of 10kg/ ha and don’t need to apply any fertiliser, as the soil has leftover nutrients from the previous crop.

“We irrigate the sorghum until it starts emerging and then leave it to grow unaided.
“We cut it periodically, letting the cuttings remain on the land to create a mulch layer, which helps retain soil moisture.”
The mulch also increases the level of carbon in the soil and aids in the growth of micro-organisms.
“It protects the soil from the extreme heat and prevents weeds from taking over, which in turn reduces our reliance on herbicides,” adds Van der Merwe.

In the five-year cycle, potatoes are planted in year one, the land is rested in year two, and onions or butternut are planted in year three. This is followed by sorghum. The following year, potatoes are planted again to start the new cycle.

The decision of whether to plant butternut or onions is based on the area and soil.
Butternut thrives on some lands, while onions do better on others.
About 19 000t of onions are harvested each year, with the yield varying between 50t/ha and 70t/ha depending on the region. Butternut production amounts to 7 000t a year, and the aim is to obtain a yield of 30t/ha.

Nature-Friendly Farming ...
Van der Merwe has shifted towards minimum-till in an effort to create a habitat favouring micro-organisms. A disc is used to cut the grass and sorghum on the land; once the organic material is completely broken down, the lands are ripped.

All of the compost used on the farm is produced in-house.
Victor Makonya, who manages compost production at AL 3 Boerdery, explains that they combine cattle manure, wood chips, grass and sorghum.
“We also mix in whole onions, which add extra heat in the compost mix as they decay, so it quickens the composting process of the other materials.
“We measure the temperature once or twice a week. When it reaches between 70°C and 80°C, we turn the compost or irrigate, because the higher temperature kills the beneficial bacteria. The compost is ready when the temperature drops to about 45°C.”

Van der Merwe highlights the importance of moisture in the soil before planting. He and his team use a five-factor rating system, which includes the soil water capacity that should be reached before planting. Sometimes, irrigation is needed to get the soil to this stage.

“After the crop has been planted, we leave it for about four weeks before irrigating again,” he says. ”At plant emergence, we apply our first top dressing of fertiliser, based on leaf analysis. The nutrients vary from year to year. Further fertilisation is determined by a leaf analysis done every two weeks.”

Plant health is of the utmost importance, he stresses.
“Pests and diseases always affect the weaker plants first. For this reason, we don’t spray correctively, but preventatively.
Compost and cover crops help ensure the health of the plants.

“Farming in harmony with nature also results in longer shelf life. We found this out by chance when market agents told us that buyers who have to travel far specifically ask for our potatoes. We believe it’s because the plants are healthier and produce a strong crop with more vitality, resulting in a longer shelf life.”

About 90% of the crops in Dendron are irrigated with borehole water.
“If we have good rain and our borehole water levels are high, we plant a bit more,” explains Van der Merwe.
“By managing our water sources meticulously, we’ve ensured that we can keep farming here. We receive only about 350mm of rain annually, so we focus on capturing as much of it as possible.”
The farm makes use of centre pivots, of which half have been converted to draglines. These result in less water evaporation, in turn reducing the amount of water required; this has cut the farm’s water and electricity costs by 30% and 45% a year respectively.

Seed Potatoes ...
According to Van der Merwe, 90% of a potato farmer’s success is based on the quality of seed. For this reason, AL 3 Boerdery grows its own seed in partnership with Richtersveld Growers in Alexander Bay.
“Buying in seed can be risky as it’s often old or immature. We have to stick to our planting programme, so we can’t wait for seed to arrive or wait for it to mature if it arrives immature. Producing our own seed also gives us control over quality.
“The seed potatoes are harvested as required, ensuring that they arrive on the farm at the optimal time. They need to rest for eight weeks between being harvested and being planted. Planting seed potatoes that have matured for 16 weeks, for example, produces inferior plants as they lose too much vigour.”

Article Credits : Lindi Botha & Farmers Weekly

Grow Your Own ...
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072 387 2293
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7 Jul 2021
Potato prices jumped by 70% in June
Potato prices jumped by 70% in June

Potato prices jumped by 70% in June

A decrease in potato stock levels during May and June resulted in high increases in potato prices. Photo: Annelie Coleman
The strong year-on-year price increase for potatoes during June was driven, in part, by the decrease in stock levels due to excessive rain and low summer temperatures in some of the planting regions earlier this year.

According to a report published by Absa AgriBusiness, these adverse weather conditions affected potato yields in the eastern and western Free State, as well as early production in Limpopo.

Towards the end of June deliveries started to increase, but volumes were expected to remain under pressure over the next four months, while a relatively cold winter could extend this trend well into the third quarter of the year, the report said.

Willie Jacobs, CEO of Potatoes South Africa, told Farmer’s Weekly that according to daily fresh produce market data, deliveries to fresh produce markets decreased only 6% in May and 3% in June, compared to similar periods in 2020.

At the same time, sales increased 4% during May 2021 compared with May 2020. In June 2021, sales decreased 12% compared with June 2020.

However, average daily stock levels were much lower than last year, amounting to 26% in May and 29% in June.

Cumulative stocks had started to decline due to shortages resulting from heavy rainfall earlier in the season in the Free State.

“Prices increased 34% year-on-year during May, [while] the year-on-year price during June rose 69%. This translates into an approximately R23 increase per pocket. Broken down to price per potato for large/medium [classes], this equates to approximately 60c/potato,” Jacobs added.

Consumer price resistance appeared at higher price levels than in the past, indicating that prices of competitive starches were much higher, he said.

According to Jacobs this showed that consumers regarded potatoes as a staple food and were willing to pay more for it.

Producers in Limpopo had started to deliver potatoes to fresh produce markets, which saw a rise in daily stock levels over the past two weeks.

Article Credits : Annelie Coleman & Farmers Weekly

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6 Jul 2021
Danie Bester
Danie Bester

Young Farmers

Young farmer’s 7t/ha soya bean crop ...

As the TAU SA Young Farmer of the Year 2020, Danie Bester epitomises the ideal modern farmer: energetic, curious, tech-savvy and connected to his peers globally. While his precision farming techniques have yielded him a bumper soya crop, this ambitious producer plans to do even better.

Growing up on the family grain and cattle farm in Balfour, Mpumalanga, Danie Bester developed an interest in computers alongside a love for farming.

This has benefitted him in an era of technology and precision farming, where GPS-linked systems and software programs have enabled him to optimise every square metre of his farm.
He also leans on a group of farmers in the US who share a common vision to obtain the maximum possible yield using the latest technology, their own research and shared learning.
“Being part of such a group has made a world of difference to the way I farm. I’m challenged to think differently about how we farm in South Africa, and question the norms,” says Bester.

New thinking ...
“What I learnt studying agriculture, and from farmers in the US, is that our entire approach to fertilisation is wrong. I’ve seen first-hand that South Africa is light years behind. Our fertiliser programmes need a makeover. Fertiliser norms have stayed the same down the years.
Bester offers a word of caution, however: conduct tests yourself before applying any changes.

“And if you are going to seek advice, start with someone who is independent, not from a chemical, and not driven by sales. Phone other farmers, as many as possible, and see which trends emerge. Learn to do things yourself; the sooner you do, the better off you’ll be.”

Improving the soil ...
Bester aims for a 50:50 ratio between maize and soya bean, and follows a no-till programme to optimise soil moisture retention, reduce compaction, and enhance the microbes in the soil.

He plants a mixture of radish and field peas as cover crops between the soya bean and maize rotations to ensure that the soil is not left bare to dry out.

When switching from maize to soya bean, he plants winter wheat as a cover crop between rotations. This, he explains, has had a major effect on soil health.

“No-till in particular has had a big impact on the soya bean, as the crop is sensitive to changes in moisture and temperature. Because the soil is cooler and retains moisture, the plants are far less stressed and produce more flowers, and consequently more seed pods.

“Root development is also far better and the rhizobium concentration in the soil is increasing.”

Part of Bester’s plan to improve the soil involves correcting the pH. Each year, he measures the yield to ascertain the effects of these adjustments.

“Results have shown that in certain lands we can obtain an increase in yield” he explains.

“Soil samples are crucial to understanding where I am and where I need to be, and to monitor the impact of my actions. I apply inputs at variable rates, according to a soil analysis conducted on every half-hectare. I then compare soil samples six months and then a year down the line, so that I can see what the uptake and effect is. We do this every season to monitor the improvements over the years. It costs money, but it’s necessary.”

Tech is fundamental ...
At the heart of Bester’s farming operation is the technology. Through software, he can calculate the cost of the applications for each input, compare them with yield and prices, and obtain an exact economic threshold of when applications no longer warrant the output.

“You can buy yourself a harvest by applying as much fertiliser and other inputs as possible, but it doesn’t help if you’re spending more money than you’re making,” he says.
Bester has built up a mass of data to guide his decision-making.
“I use many years’ data to get exact measurements of what’s needed for a certain yield in certain soil types. I can see, for example, how the speed of planting influenced my yield. There’s so much information you can layer that hardly a day goes by when I don’t learn something new and gain a new understanding of how to do things better. As a result, profitability has improved because I have so much more insight into how to produce a great crop without wasting inputs.”

Precise applications ...
Bester bases his decisions on which seed variety to plant on the yields obtained from trials conducted on his farm. He aims to run these trials on every farm he owns or rents, all of which are scattered around the district and therefore have different soil types and climates.

He currently has 22 varieties of soya bean, planted commercially on the farm.
“I ran trials and found the soya bean crops that didn’t receive any chemicals at planting showed far better growth.
“Applying a chemical results in a layer of contaminated soil.

When, why and how ...
Bester believes in planting soya bean sooner rather than later in the season, as is usual in South Africa.
“I learnt this from the US study group, and have seen first-hand on my farm that it’s the best approach. A land that we planted on 12 October has to date produced an average of 202 pods/ plant; while a land planted on 3 November has produced an average of 65 pods/ plant. Planting earlier ensures more sunlight, which gives more time for flowering and hence more pods.
“The earliest I plant is 5 October, but it’s normally between 20 and 25 October. I plant at an average density of 210 000 plants/ha, but this varies, as density is cultivar-specific and dependent on the potential.

All the crops are grown under dryland conditions, and the area receives about 750mm of rain annually.

Continuous care ...
In soya plants, most of the yield potential is determined when the plants are about 20cm high.
“Anything you can do to aid the plants at that stage needs to be taken into consideration,” says Bester. “When the plants get to the V2 growth stage, I pull out an entire plant and send it for soil and leaf analysis. I then compare the data with that of previous years so I can get a good idea of what yield to expect. If the analysis shows that my soil is low on any element, then I know what to add to my first foliar application.
“I then take another leaf sample a week before doing the foliar application in order to do the fine-tuning.
“At R3, there’s another small window of opportunity to gain a yield advantage. The leaves must be healthy, so we apply a small amount of foliar feed, based on the results of the leaf analyses.
The more potential you can maintain throughout the plant’s life, the better. For every step you skip, you can lose 0,5t/ha of yield.”

Reaping the rewards ...
Bester achieves an average yield of 3,1t/ha on dryland, while some of the fields he rents dip to 1,7t/ha. However, a small field where Bester applies highly intensive management reached 7,12t/ha of soya bean on one occasion.
He harvests at maximum moisture levels to retain all the pods.

“If your plants’ nutrition is at the correct levels, the pods should remain intact. 

Harvesting is monitored in 'real time' 
“I start analysing the data to see where changes occurred and what had an influence on the yield. This information is correlated with the soil and leaf samples, what I ended up applying, what it cost me, and what worked. I speak to the US study group about emerging patterns or why something reacted in a certain way. Then I refine the next year’s fertiliser programme based on these results.”

Must-have equipment ...
Bester says that the harvest monitor is an essential piece of equipment for him.
“It’s the report card of the season. I can’t do anything next year if I don’t know what I did right or wrong this year.

“The best advice I can give to farmers is this ...
Don’t do this year what you did last year and expect a better yield. If you get a hectare with a higher yield, take a soil and leaf sample and compare it with samples from the other lands. Ask questions and investigate. The best way to learn is to check things for yourself.”

Article Credits : Lindi Botha & Farmers Weekly

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4 Jul 2021
Biodiversity Loss
Biodiversity Loss

Biodiversity Loss

Biodiversity loss could wreck the global financial system – and it’s only a matter of time.

The world’s biodiversity is declining faster than at any other time in human history, and an estimated 1 million species are at risk of extinction

Climate Change presents a financial risk to the global economy, but more recently biodiversity loss has emerged as an equally important risk.

In fact, climate change and biodiversity loss are now often referred to as the “twin crises” facing the global financial system and awareness of the role the financial sector plays in this is rising swiftly.

Crucially, a recent global review on the economics of biodiversity commissioned by the UK government, often referred to as “The Dasgupta review”, concluded that our economic system is dependent on biodiversity. This fact is rightly of concern to the financial sector, given the world’s biodiversity is declining faster than at any other time in human history, and an estimated 1 million species are at risk of extinction.

Five of the world’s leading reef and climate scientists say it was correct for Unesco to recommend the Great Barrier Reef be listed as world heritage ‘in danger’

Just last month the G7 climate and environment ministers acknowledged “with grave concern that the unprecedented and interdependent crises of climate change and biodiversity loss pose an existential threat to nature, people, prosperity and security”.

There are potential parallels between nature risk and other responsibilities of financial institutions, like anti-money-laundering requirements. Just as financial institutions have a responsibility to ensure that they are not a conduit for money used to do harm through criminal activity, there is a growing sense that the finance sector has a responsibility to manage the economic risks associated with nature degradation – and ensure they are not a conduit for finance that is destroying nature.

In this context, an international Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) launched last month. Over the next two years, the TNFD will develop a framework for corporations and financial institutions to report on nature-related physical and transition risks that include immediate, material financial risks, as well as nature dependencies and impacts and related organisational and societal risks.

This ambitious scope of work has already been endorsed by the G7 finance ministers and, with the TNFD officially under way, nature risk will ascend quickly to claim its place alongside climate risk at the top of board agendas.

Like the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures before it, the recommendations of the TNFD are likely to catalyse an expectation from regulatory authorities and investors that corporates will make increasingly sophisticated disclosures on nature risk.

Ultimately, the TNFD also has the potential to divert the flow of capital throughout the global financial system away from activities that cause the destruction of nature, or are “nature-negative”, and towards those that are “nature-positive”.

The discourse on nature risk now appears to be at a similar point to climate risk half a decade ago – when the seminal legal opinion by Noel Hutley SC and Sebastian Hartford-Davis on directors’ duties and climate risk was published.

This means that, depending on the particular facts of the case, it is possible a court could find that nature risks are capable of representing a foreseeable risk of harm to the interests of companies today. It follows that a director who fails to properly consider these risks could be held personally liable for breaching their “duty of due care and diligence” to the company under the Corporations Act, to the extent that the risks intersect with the interests of the company.

It is arguable that this duty already exists because many of the factors that informed 2016 climate risk opinion are now also true for nature risk, or may be in the near future.

One example of physical nature-related risk is pollinator colony collapse. Around one-third of our food is pollinated by bees and their pollination services are worth several billion dollars a year to the agriculture sector. However, bee populations across Europe, the US and China have been devastated.
Our bees are under threat from outbreaks of disease and parasites, as well as a long list of other pressures such as pollution, the use of pesticides, intensive agriculture, the introduction of alien species and climate change. This is a material risk for many businesses throughout the agricultural supply chain, and directors should be considering how it could affect the financial position of their companies.

In terms of transition risks, there is the potential shift in investor and consumer behaviour to consider. Consumer preference for sustainability conscious products has been growing for some time.

On the investment front, widespread interest in Climate Asset Management – a recent joint venture by Pollination and HSBC that aims to invest more than US$6 billion into natural capital – has demonstrated that there is emerging appetite for investment in nature-positive assets at scale. It is likely only a matter of time before divestment from nature-negative assets follows.

Article Credits : Geoff Summerhayes & Laura Waterford

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3 Jul 2021
Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss
Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss

Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss

Climate change is inextricably linked to the accelerating destruction of nature. This report discusses how natural climate solutions, which include land management programmes that increase carbon dioxide storage and reduce carbon emissions, can help tackle both problems simultaneously.

As the world emerges from the health and economic crises caused by COVID-19, it faces converging and compounding environmental crises: climate change and the accelerating destruction of nature.

Although its benefits are often hidden, nature sustains over half of the global economy: it ensures food security and supports water cycles; it protects communities from floods, fires and disease; and it helps mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and, in some cases, providing resilience against the effects of climate change.

But this stock of natural assets is finite and dwindling. The need for action is pressing: 32% of the world’s forests have been destroyed, 40% of invertebrate pollinators face extinction, and there has been a 23% reduction in land surface productivity due to land degradation.

This drawdown on natural capital is accelerating climate change, decreasing resiliency, and reducing the availability of fresh water, clean air, fertile soil and biodiversity. Meanwhile, climate change is having a substantial impact across the world.

Rising temperatures, disrupted water supplies and flooding are set to displace millions of people. While there are tens of millions of environmental migrants today, approximately one billion people will live in countries that do not have the resilience to deal with expected ecological changes by 2050.

Involving nature ...
Natural climate solutions (NCS), which are conservation, restoration and improved land
management actions to increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions, have the potential to address the converging crises of climate change and nature loss.

At the same time, they could help deliver sustainable development in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to provide equitable livelihoods, advance education and equality, and improve natural resource management.

The private sector ...
Private sector commitment to climate action is gaining momentum. Many companies are setting net-zero goals to drive low-carbon strategies and address the risks and opportunities they face.

Physical risks include disrupted supply chains and volatile prices of raw materials resulting from extreme weather events and other climate effects, as well as regulatory and reputational (transition) risks that arise through shifts to greener economies.

Their customers, meanwhile, are demanding climate-friendly products and services, and companies seen as failing to act face a potential loss of business.

Investors, too, are demanding action, and the call is being heard:
net-zero commitments by companies have more than doubled in the past year, and the scale of NCS within these commitments is rising accordingly. Based on net-zero commitments today from more than 700 of the world’s largest companies, there have already been commitments of about 0,2Gt carbon dioxide (CO2) in carbon credits by 2030.
Today, those making net-zero claims are expected to reduce their emissions where possible, and neutralise by retiring an equivalent amount of carbon credits or investing directly in carbon removals.

Investing in nature ...
There is no clear path to deliver climate mitigation without investing in nature. Limiting
climate change to safe levels requires avoidance or reduction of emissions, and removal or sequestration of CO2 from the atmosphere.

While exact estimates vary based on climate mitigation pathway modelling, if we are to reach a 1,5°C or 2°C pathway by 2030, we require a 50% net emission reduction of about 23Gt CO2 by that date from 2019 levels. NCS could deliver up to one-third of this net emission reduction.

What makes investments in nature especially attractive if done well is the enormous and varied array of ‘co-benefits’ that can arise alongside the direct actions taken to address the biodiversity and climate crises.

These include heightened resilience in the face of the negative effects of climate change, and more sustainable development opportunities for local communities. Improving soil health, for example, increases the resilience of croplands, while fire management can mitigate the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

Both can help protect and secure the income and assets of rural communities. Therefore, upscaling NCS and addressing the causes of the historic underinvestment in nature solutions will help close the biodiversity finance gap, recently estimated at between $722 billion (about R10,8 trillion) and $967 billion (R14,4 trillion) per year over the next 10 years.

A scale-up of NCS could also provide important innovation and learning opportunities for the transition to a nature-positive food and land-use sector, a critical task for world governments in the next decade.

Beyond the environmental co-benefits, NCS projects can create broader benefits for local livelihoods, health and education. As the bulk of low-cost NCS potential is in the Global South, NCS projects can generate flows of private capital to these countries. This creates further co-benefits, even those not related to nature or climate, such as reduced inequalities.

Analysis carried out by the Woodwell Climate Research Center for this report shows that the three largest NCS by potential have high environmental co-benefits, including sequestering carbon, biodiversity, soil health and water quality. The table indicates the importance of particular NCS on these co-benefits.

Carbon markets ...
While there is tremendous potential for NCS as part of a net-zero economy, a number of technical and conceptual hurdles, institutional failures and poor experiences of past schemes have created a lack of confidence among many stakeholders about how effective NCS can be.

This has prevented NCS markets from achieving scale. In the past, carbon markets in general and forestry credits in particular have suffered from low price levels, an oversupply of credits as a result of inflated baselines, insufficient demand, and liquidity on the market.

These technical hurdles can be overcome with improved monitoring technology and market architecture. Perhaps most importantly, the conceptual differences that hamper today’s market development require stronger collaboration and dedicated efforts to build effective institutions and trust among both public and private actors, but also between the resource-rich host countries of NCS projects and potential buyers of such credits.

Carbon markets present one opportunity to increase financing for NCS and help them reach the scale required to meet net-zero targets.

Other financing vehicles that have gained increasing attention include debt-for-nature swaps, green bonds and loan programmes, blended finance instruments to de-risk investments, and nature-linked insurance mechanisms to increase resilience.

While not the focus of this report, it is recommended that further work be undertaken to see how these other types of vehicles, together with carbon markets, can provide a portfolio of NCS financing solutions.

The message of this report is that several key actions must be taken to overcome existing bottlenecks in NCS carbon markets and create certainty for buyers, suppliers and regulators.

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2 Jul 2021
South Africa’s consumer inflation figures for May show that the country’s Consumer Price Index headline inflation has reached a four-year high.
South Africa’s consumer inflation figures for May show that the country’s Consumer Price Index headline inflation has reached a four-year high.

South Africa’s food inflation at four-year high

Statistics South Africa’s consumer inflation figures for May show that the country’s Consumer Price Index headline inflation has reached a four-year high. 

In May, South Africa’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) headline inflation reached the highest level since November 2018 and food price inflation rose to its highest point since July 2017.

This was according to Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA) latest consumer inflation figures released on Wednesday, 23 June. It showed that the CPI climbed to 5,2% in May, up from 4,4% in April.

Inflation on food and non-alcoholic beverages for May was up 6,7% year-on-year (y/y), a 46-month high according to Stats SA, contributing 1,2 percentage points to the increase in CPI.

According to a food inflation brief by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), the cost of its BFAP Thrifty Healthy Food Basket, which is a representative sample of a balanced food basket for a family of four, rose to R3 007/month. The cost of the food basket increased R150 (5,35%) y/y and R66 (2,2%) month-on-month.

Cooking (sunflower) oil prices continued to surge, increasing 30,3% from May 2020 and 8,5% from April 2021. The average price of a 750ml bottle of sunflower oil, for example, was R20,99 a year ago, rising to R29,39 in May this year.

Higher cooking oil prices was the main driver of inflation in the broader oils and fats category, which recorded an annual rate of 20,0% in May, up from 16,7% in April, the report said.

Grain SA economist, Luan van der Walt, attributed this strong rise in prices to the fact that South Africa was a net importer of vegetable and seed oils.

“The main seed and vegetable producing region in the world is situated in the region of the Baltic Sea. These countries didn’t have a large harvest, which led to an international drop in supply.”

According to BFAP, price increases for oils and fats were due to international price pressure from a combination of supply disruptions such as dry weather conditions in the Black Sea Region, which affected sunflower and canola production, leading to declining stocks over consecutive years.

Annual meat inflation had stubbornly remained above 6% since October 2020, climbing to 8,5% in May. Koos van der Ryst, chairperson of the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, said high red meat prices could be attributed to droughts suffered in many parts of the country.

“Farmers are currently in a herd [re-building] phase. Not many animals are being slaughtered,” he said.

This was confirmed by BFAP, which said in the report that meat prices were higher on the back of higher international prices, increasing input cost and tight supplies due to lower imports from Namibia, as well as lower local livestock slaughter numbers.

“It is expected that slaughtering will increase as the year progresses, but prices could remain firm due to global prices trending higher,” BFAP stated.

Article Credits : Susan Marais & Farmers Weekly

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27 Jun 2021
Bheki Mhlane
Bheki Mhlane

Meet the Farmers

A sugar farmer’s bitter sweet victory ...

It would take a family tragedy to force Bheki Mhlane back to the family sugarcane farm near Umzinto in KwaZulu Natal. 

Today this second-generation farmer continues his Father’s life’s work, while benefitting from the farming networks his Father built up over the years. 

Producing his own sugarcane and modernizing his Father’s operation, Bheki aims to have 100ha under production soon. 

His only regret ? ... 
That he didn’t start farming sooner ...

Click on this link to view Bheki's Photo Gallery and short video ...
https://www.africanfarming.com/gallery/episode-thirteen-gallery/

Article Credits : Lindiwe Sithole & Agrican Farming

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26 Jun 2021
GreenAgric is Open for Business
GreenAgric is Open for Business

GreenAgric will Remain Open Throughout the Imminent Lockdown

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24 Jun 2021
Mabel Dikobe's CoOp
Mabel Dikobe's CoOp

Meet Mabel Dikobe

Farmer’s passion for agriculture helps uplift her community.

Vegetable farmer Mabel Dikobe’s story is a fine example of how equipping small businesses with the resources they require can empower them to support entire communities.

Mabel Dikobe‘s farming co-operative has been producing dryland sugar bean for a number of years. The vegetable is popular on informal markets, she says. 

Mabel Dikobe produces vegetables and sugar bean on her 1ha farm in Eikenhof, Johannesburg. She also runs a feeding scheme in Alexandra and manages a community upliftment NGO called Mveledzo.

Dikobe, 68, was still at school when she first discovered her passion for agriculture. From a young age she cultivated vegetables in her family’s garden at home. This eventually led her to join the Alexandra Renewal Project in 2005. This project identifies opportunities for agricultural development in the community. That same year, she established Mveledzo, before starting her feeding scheme in 2007.

When the Alexandra Renewal Project first started, it was mainly a waste-management community programme. Dikobe organised campaigns, with the assistance of the Department of Environmental Affairs and the then Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, to clean up parts of the township and turn them into vegetable gardens for the community.

Members of the community also received training on how to maintain the gardens.

During one of the training workshops, an attendee spoke about receiving farmland from government, and Dikobe was curious to find out how this process worked.

Finding her way ...
During her investigation, Dikobe learnt of United Way South Africa’s (UWSA) Urban Agriculture Programme (UAP), which connects low-income urban farmers to sustainable economic opportunities. She applied to the programme in 2012 and a year later was one of 600 smallholder farmers across the Johannesburg region who were chosen to participate.

As part of the programme, 50 small-scale farmer co-operatives were given access to 240ha of farmland.

The UAP, in collaboration with the City of Johannesburg and the Department of Social Development, supports smallholder farmers with business and technical skills, as well as access to markets. In doing so, it contributes towards poverty alleviation, food security, employment creation, and small business development.

In 2016, through the UAP, farming tunnels were erected for the participants, and by 2018 Dikobe was managing three on her own.

The programme was focused mainly on supporting farmer co-operatives, however, and since Dikobe was farming on her own at the time, she formed a co-operative called Tshepo Ya Rona Primary Agricultural Co-operative (Tshepo Ya Rona), in order to continue as a UAP participant.

The other four members of Tshepo Ya Rona are Lilian Kamohi, Elen Hlatshwayo, Thulani Phungula and Nonhlanhla Nyembe. They had all been involved in other co-operatives participating in the UAP, but these had been unsuccessful, and they were all eager to continue farming.

Getting started ...
“When we first arrived on the land, there were rocks that we had to remove ourselves,” recalls Dikobe. “There was also very limited access to water; we all had to rely on a supply from one tank that was filled from a single borehole, so we planted dryland crops such as maize and sugar bean.

“The farm has good clay soils and the farmer who occupied the land before our co-operative had grown turf. The dryland crops did well on the land and they weren’t very labour-intensive. We just had to make sure that we rotated the crops after every harvest. We also had to remove weeds manually through hand hoeing.”

When the farming tunnels were erected on part of the land, additional water tanks were installed and the tunnels were fitted with sprinkler irrigation systems.

With greater access to water and irrigation infrastructure, the Tshepo Ya Rona co-operative members started planting crops such as tomatoes, chillies, spinach, peppers and cucumber using seeds supplied by the UAP’s partners.

Since joining the UAP, Dikobe has sold fresh produce directly to informal traders from her farm. She also forms part of the supply chain that distributes fresh produce to Pick n Pay stores in Protea Glen, Protea North and Southgate, and she supplies four nursery schools in Alexandra with fresh vegetables.

Sugar beans ...
Dikobe says that sugar bean has become popular on the informal market due to its high protein content.

To capitalise on this demand, Tshepo Ya Rona continues to grow the crop and Dikobe and her fellow farmers have already learnt a number of lessons that have helped them achieve better and more consistent yields.
“With sugar bean, you have to get your planting date right,” she says.
“We plant in December or at the beginning of January after the first rain, allowing the water to soak in for at least a week before we plant. Previously we planted from November, but because we learnt that the rain tends to arrive only in December, we adjusted our planting date.”

Sugar bean, she says, requires a deep, level and firm seedbed, as this ensures better surface contact between seed and soil, which subsequently increases moisture absorption.
A level seedbed also facilitates planting to a uniform depth.
The seeds are planted between 2,5cm and 5cm below the soil surface, with an inter-row spacing of 90cm to facilitate manual harvesting.

Teaching children to farm ...
Dikobe has four children and nine grandchildren. Her youngest daughter, Nthabiseng, is keen to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a farmer too. Nthabiseng bought a farm in Pretoria in 2020, and Dikobe travels there at least once a week to assist her. During school holidays, Dikobe takes her grandchildren with her to her farm in Eikenhof as she wants to teach them about agriculture from a young age.

The 200 children from Alexandra who benefit from the Mveledzo Orphans and Vulnerable Children project, which is run by Dikobe’s NGO, are also taught about growing their own food. They are taken to community gardens to learn about cultivating various crops.

“It’s sad that so few schools participate in vegetable gardening these days. This needs to be revived so children grow up with a better understanding of the importance of food and farming,” says Dikobe.

Article Credits : Siyanda Sishuba & Farmers Weekly

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23 Jun 2021
Food Price Increases May 2020 to May 2021
Food Price Increases May 2020 to May 2021

Huge Increase in Food Prices

Food Prices Rocket

Sunflower oil, tomatoes are 30% pricier than a year ago, and other food prices also rocketed.

A new analysis by Statistics SA shows how some food prices have rocketed over the past year, with the price of sunflower oil increasing by more than 30% between May last year and May 2021.

The average price of a 750ml bottle of sunflower oil was R20,99 a year ago, rising to R29,39 in May, Stats SA reported.

Tomatoes are also more than 30% pricier.

Heavy rains at the start of the year in the Limpopo valley have ruined tomato harvests, and wreaked havoc on supplies in the country. This has resulted in a price squeeze.

Sweet potato prices (up 17% over the past year) have also rocketed.

Statistics SA reports that dried beans (+27%) and beef offal (18%) also saw large gains, while chocolate bars grew almost 17% pricier.

Surprisingly, white wine prices rose by more than 13%, despite predictions that prices would fall as the SA industry warned of surplus stock of 300 million litres of wine following the alcohol sales bans. This is the equivalent of total wine sales in the country in the past year.

Rising food prices are not restricted to South Africa – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that global food prices by their fastest monthly rate in more than a decade in May. This is due to strong demand from importers like China, as well as weak harvests in some commodities, like sugar.

In South Africa, higher food prices have contributed to an annual inflation rate of 5.2% in May, compared to 4.4% in April. This is the highest reading since November 2018.

Fuel prices, which are 37% more expensive than it was a year ago, also contributed to higher food prices in SA.

Grow Your Own ...
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in GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels ...
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for Food Security

Only GreenAgric Offers ...
* Free Delivery to most places on SA
* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations ...
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GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

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072 387 2293
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23 Jun 2021
GreenAgric is Open for Business
GreenAgric is Open for Business

YES GreenAgric is Open

The GreenAgric Group ...
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despite the chaos in Gauteng ...

GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Greenhouse Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

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