What honeybees in South Africa need from people: better managed forage

Honeybees are often in the news. Research constantly updates what’s known about their importance to the environment, biodiversity, economies and food security. In South Africa, managed honeybees support livelihoods in various ways, such as honey production. In the last decade or so, pollination services to agriculture have also become a huge revenue area for beekeepers. It is estimated that honeybees pollinate over 50 crops in South Africa. In just one province, the Western Cape, about 91,000 hives are currently required to serve the deciduous fruit industry. And this number is expected to increase…

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How special soil observatories in China are helping to create more sustainable agriculture

All over the world, agriculture is threatened by degraded soils. Stripped of carbon from intensive farming, soils erode more easily, host fewer microbes and hold less water and nutrients. Fertilisers and pesticides applied to improve crop yields can leach beneath the soil and pollute the surrounding environment. Soil degradation is a particularly big problem in China, where enormous pressure on natural resources from industrial-scale farming is accelerating the rate of soil erosion. Looking for ways to make agriculture more sustainable can be difficult because the subject is so vastly complex, and…

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How the South African government can boost its credibility in the agricultural sector

  Governments can build credibility over time through consistent commitment to implementing policies efficiently and effectively. South Africa hasn’t done well on this score. As a result of the poor record of policy implementation, investors and the general public have become sceptical of government policy pronouncements. Recent examples of this credibility gap include its handling of two major policy initiatives. The first is the National Development Plan launched in 2012. The second is the National Treasury’s 2019 economic policy paper titled “Economic transformation, inclusive growth, and competitiveness: Towards an Economic Strategy for South Africa”. Neither was…

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Small towns are collapsing across South Africa. How it’s starting to affect farming

Farming and agribusiness play a crucial role in sustaining the economies of small towns and rural areas. There is a lot of evidence of this in the economic literature and in the popular media. This dependency has its inherent risks. International literature tends to focus on the devastation of small towns in times of drought or when farming lobby groups argue for particular policies. In South Africa, a different pattern has emerged. This is when municipalities fail to provide basic services to their communities and businesses. These services include water and sanitation, electricity, roads and technological…

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Agricultural rebound: South Africa’s citrus exports heading for a record year

The first fruit destined for the Philippines was inspected last week in Durban, Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa, said in his weekly newsletter. © Copyright (c) Daily Maverick , All Rights Reserved “While export volumes will probably be modest as we test the market and develop the demand for South African citrus, the goal is to build up to 20,000 tonnes exports to the Philippines – this will secure much needed jobs in South Africa, and lead to additional foreign exchange earnings,” Chadwick said.…

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‘Tipping the scales’: Bolt and Engineering Distributors Group weighs up well with cutting-edge services to Klerksdorp customer.

The investment in customers’ businesses through a solutions-driven approach, continuous, personal interactions and outstanding customer service ensures long-standing and strong relationships, with notable achievements in operational efficiency.   For Bolt and Engineering Distributors Group (B.E.D.), which supplies a vast product range to a wide variety of industry sectors – including agriculture, mining, materials handling, working at height and welding – this dedicated commitment has resulted in many robust service accomplishments over the years:   “In particular, B.E.D.’s consistent interaction with valued industrial weighing equipment manufacturer and supplier Klerkscale for more…

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Farming hygiene practices can help protect agricultural value chain

Despite the pandemic and a contraction in some sectors within agriculture, 2020 was a good year for the South African agricultural sector which experienced a 13.1% annual GDP growth rate, according to the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Production. [https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/for-south-african-agriculture-2020-was-a-very-good-year-2021-03-16]           While red meat, poultry, milk and potato producers were sitting on stockpiles as a result of the shutdown of sit-down restaurants, the citrus industry exported record volumes following a surge in demand.   “The food supply chain is under constant threat of disease or contamination…

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Digitising Agriculture with SICK’s 3D Environment Monitoring Sensors

SICK Automation is leading the agricultural digitisation era (Farming 4.0), with its visual perception solutions for mobile agricultural machines and harvesting robots. Called Visionary Snapshot Cameras, the range is tailored for 3D environment monitoring, allowing mobile equipment to navigate, increase safety and enhance production processes. Visionary technology from SICK inherent in these cameras make them the ideal solution for a vast range of agricultural applications. They help decrease downtime with their collision avoidance capability when turning, manoeuvring and reversing mobile equipment, and by navigating autonomous agricultural machines during fieldwork. They…

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Leveraging agricultural R&D to boost SA’s vaccine production capacity: an unlikely saviour

  DESPITE significant medical progress over the last centuries, infectious diseases such as influenza and malaria still represent significant threats to modern societies. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is a case in point. The spread of a virus can also have important economic implications. These economic implications manifest themselves through aspects such as loss of income, for example, reductions in the size of the labour force and productivity, increase in absenteeism and because of curtailment measures imposed on individuals and societies aimed at interruption, the transmission and spread of the pandemic,…

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Concern about decrease in SA cotton plantings

Although South Africa’s cotton industry celebrated production growth of 800% over the preceding five years in 2019, the industry has shown a 40% decrease in hectares planted to the crop during the past two seasons. Hennie Bruwer, CEO of Cotton South Africa (Cotton SA), said in a recent newsletter that this was due to several factors, including weather conditions, a lack of access to new cultivars, and many farmers turning to food crops due to more favourable prices. Cotton SA’s market report for March indicated that in the 2019/2020 season,…

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