The Chairperson tabled the document "Volhoubaarheid van die Suid-Afrikaanse grondbonebedryf" and the English translation of said document "Sustainability of the South African Groundnut industry" for discussion. He said the document had been compiled over the past few months, following on a number of meetings that had been called to discuss the issue.
The Chairperson said the document detailed certain actions that had to be taken on various matters of importance related to the sustainability of the local groundnut industry. He noted that a resolution had been passed at the previous meeting, which held that it would be recommended to the Oilseeds Advisory Committee (OAC) that funding be provided for an economic evaluation of the groundnut industry and the various constraints faced by the industry. He said the primary aim of such a study would be to investigate the relative competitiveness of the South African groundnut industry with the view to identify opportunities by means of which the efficacy of the industry would be enhanced.
Mr Scholtemeijer recommended that Prof van Schalkwyk of the University of the Free State be approached in the first instance, as he had investigated the relative competitiveness of the South African primary and secondary oilseed industry a number of years ago. He said should more information be required than that contained in Prof van Schalkwyk's report, further assistance could be requested from the OAC. He mentioned that the National Agricultural Marketing Council also had the capacity to undertake the study, and could be approached for a project proposal.
Mr Hawkins mentioned that the Agroprocessing Section of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) may have capacity available to assist with the groundnut industry's competitiveness within the export section. He said the NAMC could suggest possible ways in which the industry could make use of the opportunities within trade and industry, specifically with regard to exports. Mr Cronjé suggested that the project be linked to an economic model, so that the data could be updated regularly.
The members were in agreement that the Oilseeds Advisory Committee would be requested to approach Prof van Schalkwyk of the University of the Free State, with the view to obtaining a copy of his study on the relative competitiveness of the South African primary and secondary oilseed industry.
The Chairperson said the second action that had been decided upon concerned research projects, literature studies and surveys. He said the recommendation had been to continue with the research projects that were currently being pursued. He mentioned that additional matters of importance were to retain the present capacity of experts within the ARC and elsewhere, breeding new high-yielding cultivars, testing methodologies to limit toxin production, and undertaking case studies on subjects that were not being researched currently, such as cultivation practices.
Mr Scholtemeijer reported that the OAC had recommended to the Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust (OPDT) that all of the groundnut-related projects that had been applied for, be approved. He said although the OPDT were only meeting on 30 November to discuss the OAC's recommendations, he was fairly confident that the OAC's recommendations would be approved. He mentioned that he took cognisance of the additional matters of importance.
Mr Visser conveyed the Forum's gratitude to the OAC for attending to the groundnut industry's research requirements, and for recommending financing of such. He said his view was that this determined the future of the industry. Dr Van der Walt mentioned that breeding new cultivars was an extremely costly exercise, and that it would be advisable to keep up to date with the latest technologies and developments elsewhere. Mr Visser said the local groundnut industry should source suitable cultivars internationally.
With regard to surveys, the Chairperson said information needed to be sourced on successful mechanised or semi-mechanised harvesting and handling processes. Mr Paul van Wyk considered this to be an essential initiative. Mr Nortjé reported that GWK had initiated such an investigation the previous year, and was also considering utilising groundnut shells as an energy source in the drying process. He said mechanising the harvesting and handling process was an expensive process. He reported that the results of the investigation had proved to be successful thus far. Mr Visser reported that his experience of mechanised harvesting and handling had also been favourable thus far.
Mr Scholtemeijer suggested that the OAC be approached with the view to funding a comprehensive literature study on the mechanised handling and harvesting of groundnuts. He said the OAC could consider supporting initiatives such as those of GWK and Mr Visser on the proviso that the information gleaned from their experiences with mechanisation be shared with the rest of the industry. He confirmed that the OAC would also consider providing funding for information days and demonstration trials, to the benefit of producers.
Mr Visser mentioned that only one year's worth of data was available on the mechanisation trials he had undertaken thus far, and that the same applied to GWK's initiative. He said the weather during that period had been fairly dry, and he was unsure what the results would be during a rainy season. Mr Scholtemeijer suggested that Dr Dreyer compile a project proposal on the proposed literature survey on the mechanised handling and harvesting of groundnuts for the OAC's consideration. The members were in agreement on this.
The Chairperson referred to the proposed third action, which held that a working group should be established to source and evaluate pertinent directional information on trends in local and international markets, to compile a report, and provide feedback to the groundnut industry. Mr Scholtemeijer suggested that it be recommended to the OAC that a knowledgeable person be contracted to do the job, as the members of the Forum did not have sufficient time available for additional assignments.
The Chairperson noted that the identification and prioritisation of bottlenecks in the groundnut industry had to be linked to existing expertise, as a fourth action. Mr Hawkins said the bottlenecks had been identified and prioritised at the previous meeting of the Forum, as detailed on page six of the relevant minutes. He was of the opinion that the bottlenecks were addressed by the various actions as outlined in the sustainability document. Mr Scholtemeijer said although aflatoxin was considered to be a key constraint facing the industry, he would recommend that the groundnut industry kept itself informed of the latest international research on aflatoxin on groundnuts, by means of internet searches.
The Chairperson said the fifth action related to international liaison and study tours. Dr Swanevelder said he considered it essential that contact should be established with other countries. Mr Scholtemeijer said communication via the internet could never replace personal exposure, which should be followed up by regular contact and follow-up visits. He mentioned that the OAC would consider funding a well structured and carefully planned international study tour.
The Chairperson said a register of individuals who could provide the groundnut industry with expert advice needed to be compiled. He mentioned that a preliminary register had already been drawn up. He reported that the OAC/OPDT had already approved funding in the amount of R80 000 for the financial year 2009-2010 with the view to effecting technology transfer by experts in the groundnut industry. The Chairperson ruled that a working group be appointed, with the view to planning a series of technology transfer sessions, by means of information days, road shows, and the like, so that the funding that had been approved could be expended in a well structured manner, and said activities and the expenditure incurred could be reported on. It was agreed that Dr Dreyer, and Messrs Botha, Du Preez and Visser would serve as members of the working group.
The Chairperson noted that niche markets should be identified and utilised, as a seventh action, with the recommendation that the breeding of high oleic acid cultivars for local and international markets be continued, and the possibility of new niche markets be explored. He explained that a niche market was specialised, and relatively small.
Ms van Deventer said the economic study and the report on the directional information on trends in local and international markets could provide clarity on the issue of niche markets. Mr Hawkins was in agreement on this. Mr Nortjé said the cultivar SAJuweel was considered to be a product aimed at a niche market, for which a premium should be paid.
With regard to technology transfer, the Chairperson remarked that sustained knowledge transfer optimised existing practices and enabled a larger percentage of producers to fully utilise the potential of existing cultivars, by means of information days, journal articles and radio talks. He said the OAC/OPDT had approved funding in the amount of R50 000 for the promotion of groundnut production and -consumption.
Mr Visser considered radio talks to be a very effective means of communication. He was of the opinion that the groundnut industry should be more widely promoted to the producers, and added that the groundnut industry did not receive any exposure at the NAMPO Harvest Days. Dr Dreyer mentioned that much feedback was received from radio talks. Mr Potgieter cautioned that articles on the economic aspects of groundnut production should be carefully worded, as information on groundnut prices often elicited much criticism.
Mr Nerwich advised that the target market should be considered carefully, as not only producers but also the masses - those who were buying the product - should be kept informed on the groundnut industry. The Chairperson agreed that consumer education was essential. Mr Scholtemeijer remarked that a generic groundnut marketing campaign would be extremely costly. The members agreed that Dr Dreyer, Messrs Botha, Du Preez and Visser would be tasked to conduct further talks on the matter of the promotion of groundnut production by means of radio talks and so forth.
The Chairperson said as a ninth action, it was recommended that contact be established with the relevant provincial authorities with the view to promoting groundnut production in the various provinces and regions. He mentioned that GrainSA provided training on groundnut production to developing farmers. Dr Dreyer reported that the ARC-GCI had for the past two years provided training courses for research personnel in Limpopo. He considered it vitally important to make some form of expertise available to upcoming farmers, although those farmers were producing on a small scale only. He thought this training could be expanded to other provinces, such as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Free State. He added that this would be a medium to long term project. He suggested informing the various provincial departments of agriculture that the Forum wished to promote groundnut production in those provinces by means of training courses to research personnel, and inviting them to respond if they were interested in taking up the offer.