Reports / Archives / Research Reports / 2000/2001 / 2000 General Overview

Research Report 2000/2001

2.

 

General overview


PRF policy is formulated at Board meetings, which are held once every two months. Executive Committee meetings are synchronised with Board meetings to deal with issues referred to the Executive Committee by the Board and to discuss matters of an urgent nature. The PRF has three standing committees, viz:

  • The Finance Committee which handles investments, drafts and monitors budgets and manages cash flow;
  • The Technology Committee which attends to technology aspects such as the approval of research projects; and
  • The Marketing Committee, which deals with bursaries, performance awards and sponsorships.

This structure is complemented by PRF working groups, to which reference will be made later, as well as ad hoc sessions on specific subjects, e.g. anthracnose, biotechnology, seed breeding, etc.

During the year it was decided to invite speakers from time to time to address Board meetings as well as working groups on specific subjects. Further details in this regard appear later in the report.

During the past year the PRF repeatedly noted the growing demand for protein for animal feed while imported protein became steadily more expensive given the rapid decline in the value of the rand.

In an attempt to accelerate our efforts and relieve the growing pressure for imported protein, the PRF initiated co-operation agreements with various organisations. To this end, the PRF and the Chief Directorate Agriculture – Western Cape (CDA-WC), as well as Agriculture Western Cape (now known as Agri Western Cape), i.e. the Winter Grain Producers' Organisation (WPO – now part of Grain South Africa) decided to contract Dr A van Jaarsveld in a joint project to assist with the promotion of a variety of crops in the Western Cape. Similar co-operation is being negotiated with the Departments of Agriculture of Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. In an effort to avoid damage to the anthracnose project for lupins, the possibility of a co-operation agreement with the ARC: Grain Crops Institute (GCI) is also being considered with a view to the imminent retirement of Dr J van der Mey. In light of this, discussion was held during the past year with the ARC-GCI to discuss in depth the future of soybean and lupin research.

Co-operation with the ARC-GCI has been going on for several years. The PRF's NAMPO harvest day exhibition, which operates in collaboration with the ARC-GCI, is well attended every year and plays a major role in introducing the three crops that the PRF is currently promoting, viz. soya, canola and lupins. With this successful action as backdrop, the PRF reached an agreement with the CDA-WC as well as with Moorreesburg Koringboere Beperk (MKB) and Porterville Agricultural Co-operative (PAC) to become involved as a partner in the SKOG day in the Swartland. This day has been hosted successfully for several years, with canola and lupins benefiting in the process.

The PRF has for several years financed the information publication LUPTEC that, in collaboration with the ARC-GCI, provides information to lupin producers in the summer rainfall region. At the request of the Lupin Working Group in the Western Cape, it was decided to publish a similar quarterly titled "Lupino" in an effort to boost the lupin industry in the winter rainfall region. The Canola Focus for the canola industry reported on last year appears to be a huge success.

The funding of agricultural research not only remains problematic but the situation is actually deteriorating. Accordingly the PRF and the Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust (OPDT) as well as the Oilseeds Advisory Committee (OAC) agreed to co-operate in an attempt to spread the financial burden of research. Such co-operation will result in the elimination of overlapping, on the one hand, and gaps in research, on the other. It was decided to initially finance two soya research projects jointly since soya is currently the only product that the two organisations have in common.

The activities in which the PRF is involved are of a dynamic nature. In an attempt to monitor the actions of organisations similar to the PRF, the chairperson, during a private visit to the USA, also paid a visit to the United Soybean Board which is largely responsible for supporting and enhancing the soya industry in America. A similar visit was paid to Monsanto where useful information was gathered in respect of canola and soybeans with a view to applying it in South Africa.

The international co-operation referred to last year, which had temporarily come to a standstill, gained new momentum during the visit of Dr D Berger to Australia. The anthracnose research project (see below) undoubtedly benefited from this visit and the PRF wishes to thank Dr Berger for the good work he did there as well as for the very comprehensive report that he submitted in this regard.

Two PRF-funded projects deserve special mention in that a patent and a provisional patent were registered in collaboration with the ARC. The PRF wishes to acknowledge Ms K de Ronde for her work, which resulted in the first patent, as well as Dr C Mienie whose work led to the provisional registration of another patent. More particulars in this regard appear in the discussion of these projects.

The financing of soybean cultivar breeding has also borne fruit. A white hilum cultivar developed by the ARC-GCI in a PRF-funded project was contractually transferred to a soybean processor with a view to human consumption (see below).

The PRF unfortunately had to say farewell to several of its members who have left their respective commodity fields. These include Dr A Viljoen, representative of the oil expressing industry, and Dr A Badenhorst, who represented fish research.

Dr RD Bigalke had chaired the Protein Research Advisory Committee since its inception and later also the Protein Research Trust. During these ten fruitful years, the PRF went from strength to strength. A special word of thanks to Dr Bigalke for his competent leadership and the contribution he made towards the dynamic management of the PRF. We wish him a happy retirement, and to Drs Viljoen and Badenhorst every success in their new careers.

The different working groups of the PRF remain the backbone of the organisation, providing direction of the required the research and the needs that have to be addressed. These working groups are also used to distribute information as widely as possible. Dr M Griessel, for example, reports at every meeting of the working groups on the state of protein prices on international markets and provides guidelines as to what the corresponding prices of soya, canola and lupin should be on local markets. This special contribution has certainly meant that a far more transparent price policy is followed in the different markets.

A large number of field days, covering all three crops, were held nationally. Several trustees, contractors and co-workers played a role to promote the different crops at these occasions. Information emanating from such events, but especially from the working groups, has resulted in pro-active efforts on the part of the PRF in terms of important aspects that require research. Most of the research projects that are currently funded by the PRF originated from these actions. A detailed discussion of these projects appears later in the report.