Research Report 2007/2008



Policy decisions

Every year a number of situations arise that require policy decisions to be made by the PRF. The past year was no exception.

Research and cultivar selection with regard to faba beans has been funded by the PRF in the last few years. The PRF contractor involved in faba beans research and development, Mr Herman Agenbag, retired at the end of December 2007 whilst the Department of Agriculture of the Western Cape, indicated at the same time that they did not have the manpower to continue the project. In the light of these developments, the PRF had no choice but to terminate the funding of Faba bean projects after February 2008.

There were reports last year of the intended actions of seed companies, following the holding back of grain as seed, especially in the soy industry. In the light of this the Board of the PRF accepted the proposal of the Technology committee that application be made to SANSOR for the PRF to join as an affiliated member in order to promote interaction with seed companies.

In an effort to identify problems and needs of the leading soybean farmers in South Africa, the Board approved the concept of a Soya Think Tank, which was then organized by the PRF for the first time. A variety of issues were raised which are being following up by the PRF, but immediate attention was given to a request for a publication on soybeans that would keep producers up to date with the latest developments in the produc­tion of this protein. Grain South Africa (GSA) was approached and gave immediate support to the project. It was agreed that the PRF would carry the costs of a contractor, Mr L Weber, to compile relevant information while the undertaking from GSA was to publish this information free of charge in their monthly publication, Grain SA. The PRF trusts that this joint project will be of great benefit to soybean producers in South Africa, and to the industry as a whole.

The PRF Board also decided that continuity with regard to key aspects of the actions of the PRF were to receive the necessary attention on an ongoing basis. In the execution hereof, the Board decided at the September 2007 Board meeting to appoint Prof R Gous as a member of the Technology Committee with immediate effect. His expert knowledge will be to great advantage of the Technology Committee.

Prior to the advent of the decline in research capacity within the ARC, the PRF, on a number of occasions, contributed to the cost of international study travel by ARC personnel, since the PRF supports and encourages the exposure of local specialists to their international peers. Such contri­butions will continue to be made to deserving ARC personnel, but because of the erosion of such expert knowledge to those remaining, the PRF made a decision that international study tours by specialists and researchers, such as employees of Provincial Departments, Universities, Co-operatives and agricultural companies, would also be supported as these would largely be to the advantage of the soya- and canola industries. Study tours by both Trustees and experts such as Prof A Agenbag were thus approved in 2006/2007 (see PRF website for reports) and further study tours related to both soybeans and canola have been approved in principle for 2008/2009. Reports on these study tours will be published on the PRF website as usual.