The speakers of the final conference session on day three of the forum. From the left is Dr Pieter Henning, Dr Moritz van Vuuren, food safety and security portfolio director of the South African Veterinary Council, Chantelle Fryer of Evonik, and Wouter de Wet, chairperson of AFMA.

The AFMA Forum took place from 3 to 5 March at the Sun City Convention Centre. The forum is a highlight on the animal feed industry’s calendar and was attended by South Africans, those hailing from neighbouring countries, as well as international visitors. The three-day event was the ideal platform for industry role-players to gather new industry information, network and display their products and service to the industry.

Facing challenges and finding solutions

The theme of the forum was ‘Explore today for a better tomorrow’, which looked at the challenges the animal feed industry faces in a bid to provide enough protein to a growing global population. Discussions not only included challenges such as nutritional and animal health, but also looked at aspects further down the value chain such as consumers’ perceptions on red meat. These serious topics were discussed in a way that focused on solutions.

International speaker David Hunt, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Cainthus, asked the difficult and crucial question: “Will we be able to feed the world? And will we be able to feed the world in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable?” He is of the opinion that to become more sustainable, the agricultural industry must rely on the digitalisation of the industry. With technology that can take information and turn it into data which can be applied to improve farm management, we will be able to feed the world more efficiently.

David Hunt (left), co-founder and chief strategy officer of Cainthus, believes that red meat can be produced in larger volumes in a way that is environmentally and economically sustainable.

The Dublin-based agtech firm Cainthus is responsible for real-time feed technology. Its ALUS Nutrition, which was only recently launched, can monitor cows in real time 24/7 to observe their feeding behaviour. The technology relies on a smart camera system that collects video data and evaluates the feeding behaviour of each cow. The farmer then receives information on his or her smart device if adjustment in the feeding management is needed. It is by utilising technology such as this that we will be able to feed the world in a sustainable manner in future.  

Red meat in the spotlight

Several speakers discussed important aspects of the red meat industry. Prof Hettie Schönfeldt of the Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences at the University of Pretoria discussed some of the latest research on the public’s perception of animal products, especially red meat products. She said it is important to know that consumers do not like meat with a high fat content. In South Africa beef is the second most consumed product, but red meat with a high fat content is often perceived as bad for your health. Consumers are also concerned about the impact that red meat production has on the environment and animal welfare.  

Dr Vaughn Holder, ruminant research director at Alltech, shone the spotlight on red meat production and the allegations that it promotes greenhouse gas emissions. Dr Holder said the beef industry must survive as it has to provide enough quality protein to the additional two to three billion people that will form part of our population in the next 30 years. According to him, beef production is a highly efficient production system compared to other livestock. Only ruminants can turn the cellulose of grass into pure protein, whereas pigs and chickens consume cereals that could have been consumed by humans. He also concluded that cattle can contribute to carbon sequestration by applying the correct grazing management.

Some of the speakers included, from the left, Prof Hettie Schönfeldt of the Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences, University of Pretoria, Francois van de Vyver of Nutri Feeds, Brecht Bruneel of Orffa in Belgium, and Vaughn Holder of Alltech in the US.

Nick Serfontein, chairperson of the Sernick Group, looked at the economic sustainability of red meat production in South Africa. He said an important factor of the sustainability of the local red meat industry is that commercial farmers and private sector institutions should help develop the emerging market, as this will help them to produce on a scale that will contribute to the national meat supply chain. Click here to view the presentations of all the speakers.

De Wet Boshoff (left) of AFMA and Nick Serfontein of the Sernick Group. Serfontein is a cattle farmer who spoke about the sustainability of meat production in South Africa.

AFMA general meeting

On day one AFMA members attended a general meeting which took place before the forum was officially opened. Members were briefed by the various committees about the current projects underway at AFMA. The marketing committee, as a new division that will focus on providing marketing and communication for the organisation, was also introduced. Wouter de Wet, chairperson, and De Wet Boshoff, executive director, gave an overview of AFMA’s recent and future activities.

Wouter de Wet (on the left), chairperson of AFMA, and De Wet Boshoff, executive director, at the AGM.

Exhibition and festivities

The theme in the exhibition centre was ‘carnival’ and many of the stands were decorated with festive elements. As with any carnival there had to be winners. Divan Lombard, key account manager at Bitek Feed Science at Bitek, was the winner of an all-inclusive AFMA Forum experience because he was the 75th person to register for the forum. He was spoiled with a fully paid AFMA Forum package

During the evening function that took place in the exhibition area, guests were entertained with face paint, balloon animals, magicians and jugglers, which made the festive atmosphere even more memorable. The three-day event saw several launches and prize giveaways that took place at the various stands. The forum was concluded in the traditional way with a beach party hosted at The Valley of the Waves.

New partnerships and initiatives

Cargill and BASF announced that they have entered into a distribution collaboration in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). The collaboration positions Cargill as the strategic marketing and sales channel partner of selected innovative BASF animal feed enzymes. “Enzymes form an important part of Cargill’s holistic approach to animal production. We are proud to collaborate with BASF, a worldwide recognised supplier to the feed industry, and our main provider for specific animal feed enzymes in the region,” said Coen van der Laan, strategic marketing and technology director for Cargill’s Animal Nutrition business in the Middle East and Africa. Read more about the launch here.

From left is Joerg Schneider, head of sales management at BASF Animal Nutrition Europe/Middle East/Africa, De Wet Boshoff, executive director of AFMA, and Coen van der Laan, strategic marketing and technology leader at Cargill Animal Middle East and Africa, during the announcement of the new distribution collaboration between BASF and Cargill for specific enzyme solutions in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region at the AFMA Forum 2020.

The official launch of the AFMA/UP research and training feed mill also took place at the AFMA Forum. This is the continent’s first research and training feed mill and will be located at the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Miertjie le Roux experimental farm near Bronkhorstspruit. The purpose of having this facility is to complement the e-learning aspect of the course, as well as to help bridge the four-year gap that animal feed students face when entering the workforce directly after studying.

This training feed mill is the third one globally, with the other two located in the United States. The training feed mills located at the North Carolina State Feed Mill Education Unit and at the University of Illinois, Texas, both served as examples as to how the AFMA/UP feed mill would operate. This initiative is by the feed industry for the feed industry, and companies can become sponsors of machinery and various facilities at the training feed mill. AFMA’s first official sponsor is Kemin. Read more about the training mill here or click here to read more about the first sponsor. – Ursula Human, AgriOrbit