Part 5: Sasol Agriculture Trust
The Sasol Agriculture Trust has built up an impressive array of agricultural research projects since its founding seven years ago, in particular in the grain and oilseed industries. In addition, a large number of subsistence maize producers on communal land have been assisted by Grain SA, mainly thanks to a large contribution to the government’s Jobs Fund by the Trust that was earmarked for the grain industry.
Funded by Sasol Chemicals Industries Limited with an initial donation of R30 million, the mission of the Trust is to improve competitiveness and sustainability of the agricultural industry by funding market and production-related research, market information, market access, enterprise development, education and training programmes as well as scholarships, bursaries and awards for agricultural studies.
A board of trustees, consisting of representatives from Grain SA, Sasol, Agri SA, universities and the developing agricultural sector, controls the Trust.
The Trust has identified a number of areas where it could play a role in achieving its objectives within the available resources. These include the following:
- Funding of agricultural research activities and programmes that are generic in nature or that span across different commodities.
- Provision of bursaries, scholarships and training opportunities in fields not currently addressed by the agricultural industry.
- Funding of surveys and projects that are deemed necessary to improve the market for role-players and the supply of inputs to producers.
- Funding of projects to improve the provision of market information and transformation initiatives.
Bursaries, scholarships and internships are important aspects of the Trust’s funding strategy, particularly to build capacity and ensure proper skills development and job creation in the agricultural industry.
‘It is a known fact that funding for agriculture, particularly funding aimed at research and capacity building, has declined over time. The Trust focuses on important and dedicated programmes to alleviate this problem. Through careful and focused funding, large benefits can be achieved and critical issues can be successfully supported,’ says Mr Leon du Plessis of L&L Agricultural Services, that manages the administration and day-to-day affairs of the Trust.
The Trust’s investments are managed by a professional private wealth asset management firm.
Among the research projects made possible by grants from the Trust, are:
- monitoring of fertilisers and agrochemicals;
- rodent pest management;
- a maize hardness project; and
- nitrogen fertiliser management.
‘We are proud of the achievements of the Sasol Agriculture Trust and are looking forward to even more exciting initiatives where the Trust could play a role,’ says Leon.