Generations of experience combined with passion and experience
As world attention shifts to Africa as the future of agricultural production, companies supplying this rapidly evolving sector are poised to enjoy remarkable growth. One such company is Farm-Ag International (PTY) Ltd, a diversified specialist in the formulation, manufacture and supply of agrochemicals.
Currently, agriculture contributes a third of gross domestic product in sub-Saharan Africa with the potential to increase substantially. To realize this and to feed a growing global population of over 7 billion inhabitants, a shift from subsistence to more sophisticated farming methods has become essential.
Farm-Ag intends drawing on its extensive experience as the number one supplier of agrochemicals to the sugar industry throughout Africa to position itself in the broader agricultural sphere.
Although sugar accounts for less than five percent of agricultural output at this point, maintaining its leading position is seen as the bedrock of future growth. The company’s customers include all major sugar producers from South Africa to as far afield as Sudan, with whom they have enjoyed a long association. Farm-Ag’s long term objective is to become a major supplier of agrochemical inputs for agriculture in Africa. The company has committed to not only supplying quality product but also providing the necessary technical and back-up services in a market that will undoubtedly need guidance. Already, the technical personnel that the company has in the field enhance its value offering to existing customers.
Farm-Ag International (PTY) Ltd was established in Durban in March 2011 and has experienced phenomenal growth both in South Africa and Africa. This growth has come from an increase in the number of products Farmag are able to offer their customers as well as a growth in the customer base. Farm-Ag International (PTY) Ltd focuses on providing its customers with cost effective solutions by providing quality agricultural pesticides combined with strong service delivery and technical support from an experienced technical team. The company works with farmers who are under pressure to contain escalating input costs.
Product is formulated in house at the state-of-the-art facility as well as imported from top international manufacturers and sold under its own Farm-Ag brand either to wholesalers, directly to large scale agricultural producers or, via distributors, to end users. A great deal of emphasis is placed on obtaining the necessary registrations in countries in which the company operates. It already has a significant number of products registered within Africa and is continually expanding its portfolio in order to create a basket of products for growers of high volume crops such as sugar, maize, wheat, cotton and timber.
Currently, Farmag has more than 130 product registrations in South Africa alone, and a further 100 registrations in other African countries. The company has set itself a target of 15 new South African registrations per year. Integral to the registration process is Dr Arthur Keegan, who is responsible for all regulatory affairs and research and development.
Although it is technically still a young company, Farm-Ag is driven by an extremely experienced and dynamic team with over 200 years of combined experience across a wide spectrum of applications.
One of the company’s greatest assets is the state-of-the-art laboratory which not only carries out the necessary testing required to register new products but also keeps a continual check on the quality of existing products.
Each and every batch that is despatched from Farm-Ag’s Durban plant is evaluated to ensure that it conforms to rigorous standards. Acutely aware of the downstream environmental and health issues, Farm-Ag believes that ascribing to the highest international standards is paramount not just for the wellbeing of those using its products but also to ensure the safety of the end products that are exported to first world countries.
Another critical role played by the Farm-Ag technical team and the laboratory is the identification and registration of safe alternatives to products that are no longer deemed suitable for use. The company is continually looking for substitutes that will enable farmers to use chemicals judiciously whilst optimising output.
About 30 years ago, Farm-Ag was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Ultimately, however, the brand became dormant. Towards the end of 2010, respected entrepreneur, Robert Maingard, now chairman of the company, decided to revive it and establish a new entity.
In addition to assembling a team of eight shareholders that not only share his passion for agriculture but have complementary skills, he bought an existing South African agricultural chemicals company, Gap Chemicals. This provided access to a manufacturing plant as well as a distribution network and all important product registrations. The staff and infrastructure moved under the Farm-Ag banner and, after a complete rebranding, the new company was born in September 2011.
Farm-Ag maintains and nurtures a significant presence in the sugar industry to this day. However, the Farm-Ag team identified a need to further diversify its offering and purchased Cape Town-based Cipla Agricare from its multinational parent. This provided access to customers producing maize, citrus and soya amongst other crops, creating a valuable base for further expansion.
Farm-Ag did not stop there and, in 2013, invested R12 million in upgrading its entire production facility, replacing out dated machinery and rejuvenating inefficient systems. The end result is a modern facility that is able to manufacture product to the highest specifications. The facility has an ISO 9001:2008 accreditation.
In 2016 Zaad Holdings Limited (“Zaad”) acquired a 49% stake in the Farm-Ag Group (“Farm-Ag”). Zaad is a holding company for Zeder investments in three seed companies – Agricol, Klein Karoo Seed Marketing and Bakker Brothers. The three companies are well established producers, marketers and distributors of a wide variety of agricultural seeds to more than 90 countries. The acquisition has provided the capital injection needed to facilitate a greater focus on R&D and increasing the number of registrations Farmag are able to offer their customer base; as well as ensuring the continuity of the business.
Today, the company describes itself as a vibrant, hands-on operation that is service and relationship driven. It is the only company in its sector in South Africa to have a level 3 B-BEE rating. Averse to being weighed down by a big corporate mentality, it is committed to being flexible and accessible to its clients.
Farm-Ag is also proud of the recognition it has received in the wider business community and prides itself on certifications received from CropLife SA, an association representing responsible manufacturers and suppliers of crop protection products and the Association of Veterinary and Crop Associations of South Africa (AVCASA) which represents the crop protection and animal health products industry in South Africa.
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