Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern has called on the province’s farmers to stay on their land despite facing the triple financial threat of unrelenting drought, raging veld fires and land expropriation without compensation. As the drought entered its fifth straight year, Stern said stock farmers’ cashflow had been dealt an additional blow in the form of falling commodity prices due to the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Describing the drought as “one of the worst farmers have had to endure, due to its intensity”, he said summer heatwaves had resulted in the further deterioration of the veld. “More importantly, this has impacted dramatically on our farmers’ water resources, with borehole levels dropping almost daily and surface water drying up completely, resulting in major livestock water supply problems.” Stern said, over the past four years, farmers had recorded annual rainfall figures varying between 30 and 70% below what their average annual rainfall should have been. “The official word from the weather authorities is that we can expect the prevailing dry conditions to continue, with no significant rainfall being predicted. However, we as farmers believe that rainfall is always possible.” He said agricultural producers’ cashflow had been stretched extremely thin, as they had been spending large sums of money for long periods with the purpose of keeping their animals and lands in a productive condition. “2018 was an incredibly tough year for farmers throughout the Eastern Cape for a number of reasons. “Our farmers are renowned for their resilience. However, this resilience is now being properly tested by the climatic conditions we are expected to deal with on a sustained basis, without any support from the state to date.” Despite this, Stern said he had every confidence that the province’s farmers would survive the drought, as previous generations had done, by standing together and doing their best to remain productive . . .
PORT ELIZABETH – GOOD rain in recent weeks has relieved some pressure for Eastern Cape farmers, but with cash flows all but exhausted thanks to the drought, the future is still far from certain. According to Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern, farmers in the province have been under great pressure for four concurrent seasons, in which they have received “way below average rainfall”. “The recent rains were great news for some, with the level of the Kouga Dam rising from an unsustainable 7% to over 50%,” said Stern. “But while that takes the pressure off farmers in the Hankey/Patensie area, who are reliant on that water to produce crops from potatoes to citrus, it does not help the rest of the province, especially the northern areas where there are huge problems due to the extremely cold weather experienced in August and September. “The late, unexpected cold weather was not conducive to vegetation growth. That, and also there is a desperate need for follow-up rains.”Stern pointed out that, due to the drought, many farmers’ cash flows had been exhausted. “The only thing which saved many farmers from going under is the huge increase in commodity prices for red meat, fibre and citrus [creating higher revenue for cash-strapped farmers]. Without that increase, results would have been disastrous for all concerned,” he said. “The downside, of course, is the effect on already hard-hit consumers, with these prices expected to remain inflated for at least five years as farmers try to rebuild their herds.” CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
KWAZULU-NATAL – aQuellé recently concluded their “Triple the Joy” campaign which saw the brand travel over 4800 kilometres across South Africa and distribute bottles of water and gifts to children and adults in underdeveloped rural communities. The three-month campaign, which ended in August, followed the #SpreadTheJoySA” summer campaign. That campaign introduced consumers in the major centres of Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth to three limited edition sparkling water flavours – watermelon, granadilla and apple. According to aQuellé managing director Arno Stegen, the public response had been such that all three limited edition flavours rolled out for the campaign had been added to aQuellé’s permanent line-up. “We had intended to choose just one flavour when the campaign ended, but the public voted in favour of keeping all three. In response, we also multiplied our giving back to the community,” said Stegen. The aQuellé new flavour mascots visited non-profit organisations in three provinces, distributing bottled water, meals and donations such as gazebos, playground equipment, schoolbags and stationery to beneficiaries. “The premise behind the community campaign was that joy is meant to be shared. So, we asked the public to share stories on social media about organisations they knew of that deserved a bit more joy. We were really touched by what we heard and selected four to visit,” said Stegen. The campaign kicked off in May with a visit to the Careways Siyanakekela Centre in KwaNdengezi, KwaZulu-Natal. Here intellectually impaired adults meet once a week to learn basic skills and take part in activities that help them to build self-esteem and find their place in the community. In June, the team visited the Goldhill Legends Netball Club in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town. The club draws players as young as seven from the impoverished communities of Hanover Park, Lavender Hill, Delft and Mitchell’s Plain, keeping them off the . . .
UMZAMOWETHU, OYSTER BAY – ABOUT 1,000 pupils, their parents and teachers flocked to the Umzamowethu Community Hall on Heritage Day to meet US astronaut Dr Donald Thomas and listen to him speak of how – despite his humble beginnings – he became an intrepid space traveller. Thomas was visiting the community on invitation of the Kouga Wind Farm, as part of the Eastern Cape leg of his tour which started in Cape Town earlier this month (September 16). After visiting pupils in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, he wrapped his tour on Wednesday (September 26) in Grahamstown. The talk formed part of Kouga Wind Farm’s sustainable development drive in the communities within its geographic footprint, with education being a key area of investment. Among the wind farm’s many other community upliftment programmes is a R4-million custom-built library and IT centre launching later this year. Addressing the pupils, Thomas detailed the many obstacles he overcame, including growing up in an impoverished home without a dad and, on many occasions, even without food on the table. He had to work hard to earn scholarships for university in order to land the education he needed to become an astronaut, he told pupils. “Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something,” he told the star-struck youngsters, stressing the importance of never giving up on one’s dreams and that hard work really does pay off in the end. “You should be willing to work hard towards your dreams and not be deterred by those that tell you it can’t be done,” he said. Thomas also described what it was like to fly in a space shuttle and answered questions from pupils which included how he managed to eat, sleep and even use the toilet in outer space. During his 20-year tenure with NASA, which included four historic shuttle missions, Thomas logged over 1,000 hours of adventure in space and completed 692 orbits of the earth. His inaugural mission aboard the STS-65 Columbia in July 1994 set a new flight . . .
Quinton Uren, managing director of Port Elizabeth-based global technology company Jendamark Automation, was named a finalist in the prestigious All Africa Business Leaders Awards at an event in Johannesburg last night [Thursday, September 20]. Uren, 53, will now represent the Bay – and the Southern African region – in the Industrialist of the Year category at the eighth annual continental awards on November 29. His fellow category finalists from South Africa include Nampak CEO Andre de Ruyter, Likoebe Innovation Consultants founder Nneile Nkholise, and Nana Sebelo, CEO of Thata uBeke Manufacturing. Speaking at the awards ceremony, Uren said he was very proud to have received recognition on behalf of Jendamark. The PE-based group has grown from a small automotive engineering firm, which Uren co-founded in 1992, into a global automation technology leader with offices in Pune in India, Penzing in Germany and a sales office in Detroit in the USA. “I see our company as a beacon of what is possible in Africa and in the Eastern Cape specifically. We have an amazing talent pool and supplier base, which makes us more than a business. We are an industry,” said Uren. The AABLA Industrialist of the Year award recognises individuals who have made efforts to develop a specific industry in Africa and transformed a market, company, product or service through innovation, special advancements in technology, management production and operations. Jendamark’s export orientation, which seemed a risky move after the global economic crash of 2008, has paid dividends and today accounts for 90 to 95% of the company’s business. Jendamark is also a two-time winner of the Eastern Cape Exporter of the Year. Its powertrain and catalytic converter assembly systems, which incorporate Industry 4.0 elements such as augmented reality and predictive maintenance software, can be found in 18 countries across Asia, Europe, Africa as well as North and South America. CLICK HERE to . . .
WOMEN in the South African maritime sector were the focus of an inaugural career fair hosted by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), which attracted high school pupils, tertiary students, educators and women in in the maritime industry on Thursday (September 6). Presented in conjunction with partner African Marine Solutions (AMSOL), the fair hosted about 120 students and pupils from Nelson Mandela Bay high schools, Nelson Mandela University, the University of Fort Hare and Rhodes University. While experts from the sector addressed pupils and students about their experiences of the maritime industry, other issues such as marine tourism and entrepreneurship were touched on by academics. The aim of the event was to link women already working in the maritime sector with university students and high school pupils, to share information on careers and opportunities in the industry. The event was also used to announce a new merit bursary scheme for female students wanting to pursue maritime qualifications, in honour of the late Sindiswa Nhlumayo. Nhlumayo, who was the executive head of the Centre for Maritime Excellence at the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), was directly responsible for spearheading and implementing the National Maritime Cadetship Programme and creating awareness of maritime careers, jobs, business and recreational opportunities – and in so doing, introducing youth to the sector. SAIMI spokesman Samantha Venter said the inaugural maritime women’s event was part of a wider campaign targeted at all South Africans, to raise awareness of the wide scope of the “blue economy” and attract talented women and men to the nation’s thriving oceans economy. SAIMI was embarking on a National Maritime Awareness Campaign to “ensure that the many job and business opportunities in the maritime sector are conveyed to the public through various strategies that include career guidance and mentoring”, Venter said. “We want to celebrate . . .
TSHWANE – SOUTH Africa’s largest zoo, the National Zoological Garden of South Africa (NZG), on Wednesday launched a recycling pilot project aimed at job creation and addressing the massive litter problem which its thousands of annual visitors leave in their wake. Should the programme prove successful, it could also be rolled out at the Mokopane Biodiversity Centre in Limpopo. The pilot project, which was founded in conjunction with the national PET Recycling Company (PETCO) and the City of Tshwane, will be operated by the Umkariso Women in Water cooperative. The NZG’s acting manager for commercial services and business development, Marcel Singh, said five previously unemployed Tshwane residents had been trained and appointed to collect and sort the high volumes of recyclable materials generated daily by the zoo’s restaurants, curio shops, offices, research facilities, animal kitchens and veterinary hospital. “This project forms part of the NZG’s environmental management plan and recycling is just one area in which we are committed to expanding our green footprint,” said Singh, adding that this was in compliance with the National Environmental Management: Waste Act. “In implementing the waste hierarchy of reduce, re-use and recycle, we are also waging a war on littering, which is a huge problem. The NZG is currently in the concept phases of developing environmental campaigns aimed at reducing our plastic waste and educating visitors.” PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz applauded the zoo for taking a proactive stance on waste management, while providing jobs and skills development for future entrepreneurs. “The PET industry has long been committed to reducing the environmental impact of PET plastic packaging. This is another fantastic platform for us to engage with the public sector to make a meaningful difference,” said Scholtz. “Keeping waste out of landfills and leveraging the economic value of recyclable materials presents a great . . .
PORT ELIZABETH – The contentious issue of land expropriation, the proper management of dwindling water resources to ensure food security, and the impact that climate change will have on coastal communities will be among the hot topics when the Eastern Cape’s farmers gather for their 17th annual congress later this week. Provincial agricultural body Agri Eastern Cape will play host to the conference in Jeffreys Bay on Thursday and Friday, which features a line-up of speakers that includes academics and industry experts who are set to address the major issues affecting farming in the province. Keynote speaker Angelo Fick will launch proceedings with an in-depth look at the complexities of land issues. Fick, who is the director of research at the Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute (ASRI), is also known for his role as a senior researcher and news analyst. In response to the land question, Fick will discuss how changes in ownership structures demand creative thinking to solve this multi-faceted problem. “There are two conflicting aspects to land expropriation. We are trapped by politicians who are working towards their own agendas which, I believe, are influenced strongly by the upcoming elections, and also by land owners who are afraid of change,” said Fick. “But all the talk about who owns the land misses the point. You also have tenant farm workers whose ancestors were buried on the farm, and who will be buried there themselves. They, and their children, attended school on the land. There is a sense of history and they need to be afforded some kind of rights. “However, while there is a still a long way to go, there are already structures in place, models which are already working, under which land owners co-operate with tenants, and vice-versa, to achieve harmony.” With the prolonged drought currently wreaking havoc in parts of the Eastern Cape, the importance of water in ensuring food security is another critical issue under the spotlight. . . .
JOHANNESBURG – Recycling SMMEs received support from the PET recycling sector on Friday (July 13) in the form of equipment that will enable their effective participation in the mandatory recycling programme launched by the City of Ekurhuleni this month. This follows concerns from small industry players and informal waste collectors that they could be sidelined by the new “separation-at-source” municipal recycling initiative. PET plastic bottle producer Serioplast and the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) donated the equipment – baling machines, industrial platform scales and signage – to local SMMEs with the aims of improving the collection, weighing and baling of recyclable material for resale to recycling businesses. More beneficiaries are set to receive similar donations from PETCO in the coming weeks. The Gauteng-based small businesses included Ekhuliza Gauteng Primary Cooperative and CJU Environmental Management in Boksburg and Lakhwisha Holdings in Vosloorus. Speaking after the event, which was hosted in partnership with the City of Ekurhuleni, PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz said the citywide household recycling initiative was a positive step forward in creating a recycling consciousness among ordinary South Africans. “It is also an important opportunity for local government and industry stakeholders to develop meaningful strategies for waste reduction as well as an inclusive framework that facilitates participation and creates income-generating opportunities for businesses of all sizes,” she said. Scholtz said PET recycling had been particularly effective in creating a “circular economy”, with plastic water and soft drink bottles offering post-consumer value to waste collectors and recyclers, while also reducing producers’ need for virgin PET material. “The hard work and efforts of all players in the PET value chain – from brand owners and producers to individual waste pickers – allowed us to recycle 2.15 billion bottles in . . .
CAPE TOWN – Industry stakeholders across South Africa’s PET plastic value chain have reaffirmed their commitment to extended producer responsibility with three key appointments to the national PET Recycling Company (PETCO) board. Nominated by the industry sectors they represent, the newly elected non-executive board members will serve a voluntary three-year term. Representing the retail sector, Lisa Ronquest, head of food technology for Woolworths, replaces retired colleague Tom McLaughlin, while Kevin O’Brien, who is the risk and sustainability executive for the SPAR Group, assumes the position vacated by Pick n Pay’s general manager for sustainability, André Nel. In addition, the board has appointed independent expert Professor Linda Godfrey, who is the CSIR’s principal scientist for waste research development and innovation, to contribute to the strategic oversight of PET recycling and assist with the development of an industry waste management plan. PETCO chief executive officer Cheri Scholtz welcomed the new directors, who join existing members representing the entire value chain – from brand owners, bottlers and resin producers to converters, retailers, recyclers and collectors. “It’s wonderful to have the broader commitment of industry players throughout the value chain on our board,” said Scholtz. She said the non-profit organisation was a good example of voluntary extended producer responsibility in action. “More than 15 years ago, industry players got together to develop a model to take care of their product at the end of its life cycle. PETCO takes collective responsibility for this on their behalf, while the oversight rests with the obliged industry.” Members pay a voluntary recycling fee on every tonne of raw material purchased, which last year enabled PETCO’s contracted recycling partners to pay out R430 million to collectors for baled bottles delivered to their plants. Scholtz said the organisation had achieved consistent . . .