The 63rd annual congress of the Fertilizer Association of Southern Africa (Fertasa) was held at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria on 20 April 2023. The relevant topics and the theme – ‘Dealing with challenges in uncertain times’ – made for interesting discussions and positive networking.
Highlights from the chairman’s report
Tom Mason, chairperson of Fertasa, delivered the chairman’s report from which the following highlights were extracted:
Fertasa continues close contact with Grain SA through a liaison committee which meets annually before the summer planting season.
International Fertilizer Association (IFA)
Membership was maintained with IFA through the Africa forum. The CEO is still a member of the IFA Africa task force on Africa Strategy and Position Paper. He is also one of the two IFA ‘ambassadors’ for Africa and assists with collating fertiliser consumption estimates for South Africa and neighbouring countries. Additionally, the CEO is also a member of the Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health (AFSH) Summit.
Agro Dealers Association of South Africa (ADASA)
The association supports agro-dealers who supply fertiliser, crop remedies and other farming requirements to subsistence and small-scale farmers of South Africa and is assisted by the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP). Certain member companies supply fertiliser to these agro-dealers through ADASA and future expansion is envisaged.
Soil Science Society of South Africa and National Science and Technology Forum
Fertasa’s membership with both institutions continues.
Strategic planning sessions
An in-depth strategic planning session was held by the directors.
Fertasa website and newsletter
The website continues to be highly functional. All archived publications have been accommodated and it is now an effective communications tool. It is also supported by a quarterly newsletter informing members of various events and publications.
Publications in SA Graan/Grain
Twelve articles dealing with various aspects of soil acidity were published in SA Graan/Grain from 2020 overflowing into 2021. This has been highly successful. The articles are in process of being translated into English.
SARS data is still utilised for imports and exports of all fertiliser products.
Symposium workshop 2022
The concern of Grain SA is that the massive increase in fertiliser prices currently experienced will render this essential industry unprofitable. This was discussed and debated during and after the Fertasa Symposium workshop held on 25 August 2022.
The rest of the Fertasa congress was loaded with excellent speakers covering hot topics. To mention some of the speakers and their talks: Prof Michael Clarke, a security and defence analyst from the United Kingdom, spoke about the world in turmoil. Prof Ferdi Meyer, managing director of the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) had a talk on globalisation versus localisation: Towards self-sufficiency. Christo van der Rheede, CEO of Agri SA, spoke about the status of South African farming under current conditions, and lastly, political analyst Theo Venter discussed the South African political scene pre and post 2024.