New soya bean plant’s development aims dependent on government

A R1,5 billion soya bean processing plant is being built at the new Eastern Cape port of Coega, with the hope of stimulating soya bean production and producing biofuel from soya oil.
Issue date: 18 April 2008

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A R1,5 billion soya bean processing plant is being built at the new Eastern Cape port of Coega, with the hope of stimulating soya bean production and producing biofuel from soya oil. “The plan is for 1 million tons of soya beans to be grown by local commercial and emerging farmers in five years’ time,” said Rainbow Nation Renewable Fuels (RNRF) MD Geoff Mordt. “SA currently imports over 800 000t soya bean meal, but we have the potential to produce that locally.”

Mordt said that they were currently working with local farmers, agricultural cooperatives and emerging farmer groups to expand local production from the current 300 000t/year to the required 1 million tons. Agreements with emerging farmers include offering them technical support from soya bean specialists and guaranteed offtake.

“We’re also well-integrated in the Eastern Cape Department of Agriculture, whose new Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA) integrated cropping system will rely heavily on biofuel production from grains, including soya beans and canola,” said Mordt. RNRF applied to government about a year ago for a licence to convert its soya bean oil into biodiesel and feels confident it will be granted. Until such time as SA’s soya bean supply can meet RNRF’s needs, the shortfall will be imported as a raw product. RNRF will add value to the soya beans by processing 80% into 800 000t soya meal, a key ingredient for livestock feed industries.

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The remaining 20% will be processed into roughly 250 000t crude soya bean oil. Some 17% to 18% of this can be used to produce 288 million litres of biofuel, while 2% to 3% will be refined to produce 25 000t of pharmaceutical grade glycerine. Dr John Purchase, Agricultural Business Chamber chief executive, welcomed the initiative and investment, saying it will be a boon for job creation and food and fuel security. “It’s indicative of the excellent opportunities that agriculture and the fledgling local renewable fuels industry offer,” said Dr Purchase. G rain said the soya bean market RNRF promises to support in the Cape, and the expansion of the market as a whole, will stimulate production and the economic development of new commercial producers.

“It could have a positive influence on the current commercial sector,” said Wessel Lemmer, Grain SA senior economist for inputs. However, Lemmer said he believed a full rebate on the fuel levy, not just 50%, was necessary to support the profitability and the financial viability of the new plant. “The infrastructure and capacity for soya bean production is currently not established in the Eastern Cape region,” he said.

Producing 1 million tons of soya beans for the plant would give existing farmers the opportunity to produce soya beans at import parity prices. “However, the biofuel industrial strategy doesn’t favour soya bean production from first economy producers in SA,” says Lemmer.

“According to the strategy, biofuel plants which import feedstock or acquire it from existing producers won’t qualify for incentives. Thus, according to the strategy, any biofuel development in will mostly depend on feedstock from the second economy producers.” Lemmer said a regional soya bean market in the Eastern Cape would create an incentive for second economy producers to begin commercial production and reach first economy status, as envisaged in the biofuel industrial strategy.

“Financial assistance and extension support from the Department of Agriculture will determine the success of commercial production in the area,” he said. “However, it’s debatable whether the region can produce 1 million tons of soya beans.”– Robyn Joubert For more information about growing soya beans and about RNRF, visit or call 041 402 4000.

Omnia to sell carbon credits against climate change

OMNIA, The Specialist chemical services provider to the agricultural, mining and chemical industries, has announced a five-year deal with the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The IFC will buy up to 1 million carbon credits from in support of the global fight against climate change. According to Omnia, the IFC will purchase the Certified Emission Reductions (CER) and sell them to international buyers. Meanwhile, Omnia has constructed a nitrous oxide destruction facility at its nitric acid plant in Sasolburg, which will significantly reduce the plant’s emissions.

Trevor Grant, Omnia Fertiliser’s MD, explained, “The construction underlines our commitment to sustainable development and reflects our focus on improving all areas of our environmental management. We believe that the IFC, with its AAA rating and experience in the carbon trading market, is an ideal partner to assist us in generating strong revenue from the carbon credits.”

The IFC’s commitment to buy a minimum 50% of Omnia’s CERs will generate an estimated €15 million for Omnia. I FC manager for southern Africa, Saleem Karimjee, said he hopes that Omnia’s move will encourage other companies in Africa to also reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. – Staff reporter