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Nature matters: the responsible use of chemicals

  • 17 May 2022
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The panel consisted of Dr Klaus Eckstein (Bayer Southern Africa), Kobus Meintjies (CropLife South Africa), Egon Zunckel (Zunckel Farms) and Jaco Minnaar (Uitsny Farm).

At the heart of the conversation was the fine balance that needs to be struck between the responsible use of chemicals, farmers’ profitability and the sustainable production of healthy food. According to Dr Eckstein, the trend is to produce more with less, but it should not be at the expense of generational stewardship. “We should always remember that we do not farm for a day, but rather invest in future generations,” said Dr Eckstein.

Jaco Minnaar, a third generation farmer agrees with this notion and says that when a farmer plans for the future, he plans with a vision of 50 to 60 years in mind. For him stewardship boils down to using the right product at the right time. Asked what he views as environmental stewardship, Zunckel states that he is a custodian of the soil and as such he advocates for regenerative farming practices. These practices allow him to emulate nature and limit his use of harmful chemicals.

CropLife, a trusted partner

Meintjies focused on the role that CropLife South Africa - a non-profit industry association, plays in serving and representing responsible manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of sustainable crop protection and public health solutions in the agricultural, public health, non-crop and consumer sectors of South Africa.

He explained that the association’s vision is to provide environmentally compatible solutions that ensure sustainable, safe and affordable food production, and therefore food security, in South Africa.  This is done by means of training, regulatory assistance and regular industry updates to its members.

Technology at the forefront

By making use of sensors, drones, variable rate applications and other smart technologies producers can now rely on precise data to manage not only their chemical use but also the integration of their crop protection programmes.

Dr Eckstein explained that technology is increasingly playing a role in the management of agri-chemicals but emphasised that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The technologies required in Africa, for example, differs radically from what is needed in Europe.

Keep the conversation going

The panellists were in agreement that agriculture and by extension the use of chemicals in agriculture should remain a key discussion topic for the sake of sustainable and responsible food development in South Africa.

“By keeping the conversation going we can educate and uplift the entire value chain and go a long way in advocating for sustainable and profitable farming since we are all stewards of the environment and the future” said Dr Eckstein.

 






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