Free State Agriculture encourages positive industry news

Free State Agriculture (FSA) and Absa Agribusiness hosted a group of national and provincial media representatives at their first positive news media tour in Harrismith in the Free State on 28 and 29 April.

The tour, which Farmer’s Weekly attended, was organised as part of FSA’s efforts to expose the media to the positive news stories that agriculture and farmers have to tell.

“Our apple exports increased by 44% from 2015 to 2016; a lot of markets have opened for us, especially in Africa. We only export apples. Our berries are sold locally,” said Kerryn Fyvie, apple manager at Fyvie Farming.

“Our biggest challenge is labour becoming expensive. Other challenges are the local political climate, the uncertainty of where we are going and the reopening of land claims.” She said that as a family business, it was difficult to decide whether to plant berries or apples. The former would produce a profit in three years, while the latter would produce a profit in seven years. “We might not even own the land at that time.”

Sesisonke Farming has 700ha of potato fields and produce between two and three million pockets a year. CEO, Jabu Leslie, said that there are many poor and hungry people in South Africa who live on social grants and that his business wants to ensure that every potato inside their bags is edible, because their customers don’t have the luxury of throwing out even two potatoes.

“We deal with lower income groups. Our customers need to know that when they buy our product they buy good quality.” he said. “When the rand reaches R17 to R20 to the US dollar, it is impossible to import food. It is important for us to produce food that the consumer is able to buy.”