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Nation in Conversation – From Farm to Fork, Sustainably

  • 19 May 2016
  • 2145
  •  Nation in Conversation
  •  press-release

Day three of Nation in Conversation at the Nampo Harvest Day got going with a hearty discussion about the value chain from the Farm to the Fork. As a way of describing the value chain, Senwes Group CEO said: “I’m wearing a wool jacket, not a Marino sheep.”
Kobus made a point of the increasing importance of the value chain: “Our clients demand to know the history of the product, where it was produced, by whom and how. We have a system in our stores which allow our customers to ask questions; and one of the main questions is always about how safe the food is.”
Connie mentioned that South Africa was lagging behind Europe and America: “There are a few restaurants in the major cities where you can trace what you’re eating back to the farm, however in the main the South African consumer trusts that they are getting good food.”
Everyone agreed that it was important to inform consumers about the products that they’re consuming.  “We have a very diverse market where the house-wife in Constantia will do research before buying food, while on the other end of the spectrum people are engaged in a daily fight to eat,” said Francois.
Francois made specific reference to the grain industry where Senwes is a major player. “We produce the staple product of our nation, “mielies”, and our producers have high ethical standards which allow the consumer to trust the products they consume.”
Referring to Genetically Modified Organisms being used in the agri value chain, Kevin said that the main concern was safety. “We need to understand whether the modification will harm us.” He added that there was not enough understanding about the issue which lead to unsubstantiated fears from the consumer.
Francois said there was a lot of pressure on producers to feed the nation while having to operate in challenging conditions with regards to resources like water and power. “This is why our farmers are the first up-takers of new technology in agriculture. They’re always looking at smarter ways to improve their yields.”
“Our clients also demand that we can prove that our foods are safe, which is why we do indicate the presence of GMO’s, so that they are able to make a choice,” said Kobus. He added that he did not think that Woolworths’ clients fully understand what happens on the farm in terms of food production and that maybe there was need to communicate it to clients.
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