The third annual Agriculture and Forestry (AGFO) Expo, held at the Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre in White River recently, continued to grow its successful trade platform for the agriculture and forestry sectors, offering significant networking and business opportunities and a new start for five bursary winners.
Over the past three years AGFO has become a recognised trade platform for the agriculture and forestry sectors and exhibitors were encouraged to use this platform to its fullest.
“The feedback received from our exhibitors has been extremely positive, with many indicating that the targeted market that the expo attracts has ensured significant sales leads for them,” said Joey Lascelles, AGFO Expo Chairperson.
This year the expo hosted a Fire-Tech Workshop where speakers addressed various aspects of effective fire management that are applicable to the agriculture and forestry sectors. Over 135 stakeholders attended the workshop and were also able to watch the latest firefighting equipment being demonstrated.
“Climate change has ensured that fire risk increases significantly every year and the importance of fire risk strategies cannot be overestimated,” commented Lascelles.
The Lowveld and Escarpment Fire Protection Association sponsored two demonstrations of a black hawk, two bombers and spotter, which showed visitors how expertly water drops are performed to douse fires.
Other activities enjoyed by all at this year’s expo included MTO Forestry’s mountain bike outride, chainsaw, axe-chopping and pitsaw competitions and boeresport for the children.
The networking event, which was only open to sponsors, exhibitors and Macadamia Industry Day visitors, enabled the who’s who in the forestry and agriculture sectors to gather in one place and open doors for each other.
The expo also joined forces with the Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) to showcase the latest research and industry information at the Macadamia Industry Day.
Close to 450 macadamia stakeholders, from across South Africa, bought tickets to listen to impressive speakers, such as Australia’s world-renowned plant pathologist Prof André Drenth and well-known economist Dr Roelof Botha, who shared the results of a study on the impact of land expropriation without compensation and how this will affect South Africa’s economy.
“The expo committee is grateful to SAMAC for this opportunity and we look forward to future collaboration to ensure the growth of the macadamia industry,” said Lascelles.
To further grow the agriculture sector, the AGFO Expo and one of its prestige sponsors, Agricolleges International, ran a bursary competition which saw over 330 entries pour in from across South Africa. Of these, 140 entrants passed the qualifying exam.
Vincent Chambers, from Barberton, won a one-year bursary at Agricolleges International to obtain a National Certificate in General Agriculture. The bursary, valued at R30 000, was 60% sponsored by United Forest Products and 40% by Agricolleges International.
“United Forest Products is extremely proud of the calibre of entries received for the bursary competition and we are proud to back Vincent in the next step on his journey,” said the company’s Joey Lascelles.
Winelands Civils sponsored an Introduction to Agribusiness bursary for Mukulani Dlamini. Dlamini travelled all the way from Pietermaritzburg for the bursary draw.
The other bursary winners, sponsored by Agricolleges International, are Mirriam Mnisi (Fundamentals of Macadamia Production); Ayanda Mahamba (Introduction to Plant Production) and Prudence Selemane (Introduction to Agribusiness).
The AGFO Expo created much-needed employment for general workers and students in the lead up, during and post event. “We also support local businesses and charities and various other organisations and charities use the platform to host their own events,” said Lascelles.
This year, all the proceeds from the trail run are being donated to Hospice White River, which provides palliative care to the lowveld community. Proceeds from the boerewors sales will be utilised by Solidarity’s Helping Hand to provide food parcels for needy families over the festive season.
“The AGFO Expo relies on the support of the agriculture and forestry sectors for its growth and success and is grateful to all of our sponsors, exhibitors, visitors and other stakeholders, especially those who have supported us every year since inception,” said Lascelles.