by Marlon Abrahams

Conversation

Nation in Conversation – Mitigating Risk

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The final session of Nation in Conversation on day one of the Nampo Harvest Day in Bothaville had representatives from John Deere, Engen, Nedbank, The Climate Corporation and Monsanto agreeing that the best way to mitigate risk in agriculture was to have an integrated solution where all the players in the food value chain pool their knowledge. “The best way to deal with uncertainty is to share what you know,” said John Deere MD Sub Saharan Africa Jason Brantley.

The session was anchored by Dr Mmatlou Kabala, International Trade Economist, UP; and the panel consisted of Kit Barron, Senior Strategy Manager, The Climate Corporation; Kobus Steenekamp, MD Monsanto South Africa; John Hudson, Divisional Manager, Agric, Nedbank Business Banking; Jason Brantley, MD John Deere SA; and Mike Stead, Manager Commercial Fuels, Engen.

Given the current drought conditions many farmers are experiencing serious challenges around risk mitigation throughout the food value chain. Nedbank’s John Hudson said Banks had a responsibility to communicate the implications of non-repayments more effectively to their clients. “There are two areas of risk to the farmer, the one is the business risk with the threat of not being able to take products to market, and the other was a financial risk which affects repayments.”

Kit Barron said companies like his, who are working in partnership with Monsanto, were looking at using technology to mitigate risks. “We have developed software applications which allow the farmer to maximise their yields by having a better understanding of the effects of for example fertiliser and rain, the type of seed cultivar planted in what conditions, and so forth”

Jason Brantley said it was important to educate clients. “We don’t just sell our products to our clients, we go the extra mile by educating them with regards to viable business models and how our products fit into those models to optimise their yields and profits.”

Engen’s Mike Stead shed some light on the need to manage risk mitigation in terms of fuel delivery and distribution. “Geo-political issues, for example in the middle east and transport issues like bad roads or ships being unable to berth due to strong winds are scenarios we plan for and have mitigation strategies in place for.”

Monsanto’s Kobus Steenekamp said: “Typically farmers have to make more than 40 decisions from planting to harvest, which is why we try to assist by developing products which are suitable for the presiding conditions.” He added that communication and consumer education was crucial. We also have to mitigate against misinformation, one irresponsible misguided tweet can have a huge impact in the mind for the consumer,” he said.

Jason concluded the discussion by declaring that the “democratisation of technology was driving agriculture ever faster into an exciting phase where new technological ideas are being developed into solutions for traditional agricultural challenges.”

The panel agreed that new technology would have a positive impact in the risk mitigation battle.

Visit the Nation in Conversation website. Download the Nation in Conversation App from the various App stores and join in the conversation live in real time. Watch all the episodes on Youtube and check the website for the broadcast times of the episodes on the different television networks. Also follow the discussion on Twitter @nationconverse and check out our regular posts on our Facebook page and Instagram.

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