The AGFO Expo makes its mark

The third annual Agriculture and Forestry (AGFO) Expo continued to grow its successful trade platform for the agriculture and forestry sectors, offering significant networking and business opportunities and a new start for five bursary winners.

Held at the Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre in White River, Mpumalanga, from 8 to 10 November, the expo joined forces with the Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) to showcase the latest research and industry information at the Macadamia Industry Day.

Close to 450 macadamia stakeholders, from across South Africa, bought tickets to listen to impressive speakers, such as Australia’s world-renowned plant pathologist Prof André Drenth and well-known economist Dr Roelof Botha, who shared the results of a study on the impact of land expropriation without compensation and how this will affect South Africa’s economy.

Congratulations to the companies that won SAMAC’s annual awards this year, namely Mpumalanga’s Joubert & Seuns, which won the Lowest Unsound Kernel in 2017 (category: 25 to 100 ton dry nut in shell – 0.05% unsound); Du Twa Boerdery in Mpumalanga, Lowest Unsound Kernel  in 2017 (category: more than 100 ton dry nut in shell – 0.26% unsound); Canestay Manufacturing (Kwazulu-Natal), Highest Sound Kernel in 2017 (category: 25 to 100 ton dry nut in shell – 44.5% sound kernel recovery); Sea View Farm, Highest Sound Kernel in 2017 (category: more than 100 ton dry nut in shell – 43.1% sound kernel recovery); and Limpopo’s Zetmac, Most Meticulous SAMAC Handler to Supply Industry Data in 2018.

“Benchmarking compared over several years indicates improvement of quality, which is attributed to farmers following best practices principles. Producing quality macadamias is what has always given South Africa the competitive edge and will be of even more importance in the future, with expected increase in supply from China, Vietnam and other producing countries,” says SAMAC CEO, Lizel Pretorius.

“The expo committee is grateful to SAMAC for this opportunity and we look forward to future collaboration to ensure the growth of the macadamia industry,” says AGFO Expo chairperson Joey Lascelles.

To further grow the agriculture sector, the AGFO Expo and one of its prestige sponsors, Agricolleges International, ran a bursary competition which saw over 330 entries pour in from across South Africa. Of these, 140 entrants passed the qualifying exam.

The lucky winners were announced at the expo. Congratulations to Vincent Chambers, from Barberton, who won a one-year bursary at Agricolleges International to obtain a National Certificate in General Agriculture. The bursary, valued at R30 000, was 60% sponsored by United Forest Products and 40% by Agricolleges International.

“United Forest Products is extremely proud of the calibre of entries received for the bursary competition and we are proud to back Vincent in the next step on his journey,” says the company’s Joey Lascelles.

Thank you to Winelands Civils for coming on board and sponsoring an Introduction to Agribusiness bursary for Mukulani Dlamini. Dlamini travelled all the way from Pietermaritzburg for the bursary draw.

The other bursary winners, sponsored by Agricolleges International, are Mirriam Mnisi (Fundamentals of Macadamia Production); Ayanda Mahamba (Introduction to Plant Production) and Prudence Selemane (Introduction to Agribusiness).

DUNNS generously added to this magic by sponsoring five gift packs, each containing a 3G 7-inch tablet, with a free 3.5-inch cell phone, headphones and power bank to assist the bursary winners to study online more easily.

This year the expo also hosted a Fire-Tech Workshop where speakers addressed various aspects of effective fire management that are applicable to the agriculture and forestry sectors.  Over 135 stakeholders attended the workshop and were also able to watch the latest firefighting equipment being demonstrated. “Climate change has ensured that fire risk increases significantly every year and the importance of fire risk strategies cannot be overestimated,” says Lascelles.

The expo extends a special thanks to the Lowveld and Escarpment Fire Protection Association which sponsored two demonstrations of a black hawk, two bombers and spotter, which showed visitors how expertly water drops are performed to douse fires.

The networking event, which was only open to sponsors, exhibitors and Macadamia Industry Day visitors, enabled the who’s who in the forestry and agriculture sectors to gather in one place and open doors for each other.

Over the past three years AGFO has become a recognised trade platform for the agriculture and forestry sectors and exhibitors were encouraged to use this platform to its fullest. “The feedback received from our exhibitors has been extremely positive, with many indicating that the targeted market that the expo attracts has ensured significant sales leads for them,” says Lascelles.

Leading up to, during and post event, the AGFO Expo creates much-needed employment for general workers and students. “We also support local businesses and charities and various other organisations and charities use the platform to host their own events,” says Lascelles.  This year, all the proceeds from the trail run are being donated to Hospice White River, which provides palliative care to the lowveld community. Proceeds from the boerewors sales will be utilised by Solidarity’s Helping Hand to provide food parcels for needy families over the festive season.

Other activities enjoyed by all at this year’s expo included MTO Forestry’s mountain bike outride; chainsaw, axe-chopping and pitsaw competitions and boeresport for the children.

“The AGFO Expo relies on the support of the agriculture and forestry sectors for its growth and success and is grateful to all of our sponsors, exhibitors, visitors and other stakeholders, especially those who have supported us every year since inception,” says Lascelles.

AGFO 2018 thanks all of its sponsors, namely Mascor and Agricolleges International (prestige sponsors); Ezigro Seedlings (diamond sponsor); Novon Retail Company, Nedbank and Systeco Automation (gold sponsors); and Adama, Silvix Forestry, United Forest Products, Sanlam, Green Farms Nut Company and GAC Laser (silver sponsors).

The expo also thanks Aramex, the Chill Zone sponsor; Electra, the WiFi Zone sponsor; ANCO Manufacturing, for its donation towards the Fire-Tech Workshop; SIMMS Plant & Equipment Hire, for its donation towards the AGFO Fund; and JMC Transport, for sponsoring a tri-axle trailer for AGFO to use during the event!