Research Report 2014/2015
The PRF Board resolved to present two prestige functions in 2015, one in Stellenbosch and the other in Pretoria, to celebrate the PRF's twenty fifth anniversary in festive fashion. Each Board and Executive Committee Meeting allocated time to discuss the matter, to ensure that it would be a truly glamorous and proud celebration. One of the resolutions was to issue a commemorative album about the PRF and its activities over the past twenty five years. The 2015 year promises to be a very special year for the PRF. In this regard, it was decided to commission a corporate video of the PRF, especially because of the many opportunities for international liaison each year.
Following thorough discussions, the Board resolved to continue the Elite trials using international cultivars for another three years, but with the clear understanding that no new entrants would be allowed after October/November 2013. The last entrant under the old scheme was indeed INIA, a research institution in Uruguay. The institute offered cultivars for planting as part of the next Elite Trials. In an attempt to ensure that the PRF's ideals are being achieved, the Board resolved to also make Elite Trials available for those companies that provide seeds with unique characteristics, such as root knot nematode resistance, rust resistance and other resistances, too.
Taking into account the large number of information days offered each year by various companies and institutions, the Board resolved to scrap the Hatfield Information Day, especially because it could not be presented for the past two years due to various reasons. The Board decided in favour of comprehensive soybean and canola symposia. These will be huge events for the crops, respectively every second year. It is important to plan long in advance, to secure the very best international and local speakers for such events.
A very good arrangement and agreement were concluded with the University of Stellenbosch in terms of the involvement of Prof André Agenbag in the PRF Canola promotion actions. Prof Agenbag has become pivotal in canola promotion in the Western Cape, but according to the said agreement, he will remain active after retirement and will retain an office at the university. He will also act as professor as the need arises, but will spend most of his time on PRF canola actions. The Board is very grateful for the efforts of both the University of Stellenbosch and Prof Agenbag – the positive effects on canola production are clearly visible since the implementation of the arrangement.
Based on the significant pressure that soybean expansion placed on the Technology Committee and the Soybean Workgroup, the Board resolved to re-implement the Soybean Planning Task Team that had been dissolved a few years ago, but as a Soybean Planning Committee. Various researchers and producers were called to serve as members of the committee and the PRF trusts that this committee will help to guide the attainment of objectives set for the next five years. Probably, the most significant decision was a result of the Chairman's Report presented at the 2013 AGM. The report was referred to the Executive Management for consideration and the next step was to convene a Board think tank, the first in many years. That was in addition to the regular think tanks, respectively of the Executive Committee and Technology Committee.
Based on repositioning for the next five years, subjects for discussion included the Trust Deed, the PRF vision and mission, the web site and particularly, co-operation with international partners and what that co-operation involves, the new ideas trends in terms of determining research priorities and alternative sources of protein where possible, as well as innovation to attain the PRF's 2020 objectives.
The essence of the think tank culminated in a resolution that the focal point for the next six years should be the local production of more protein, being soybeans and canola at the lowest costs possible and that only protein related research projects of those two industries would be funded, with a view to replace imports. It is of core importance for the PRF to ensure that the production and availability of protein be effected in the most cost-effective way throughout the entire value chain. Future aspects arising from this, must be aimed particularly at the unacceptable low yields per hectare achieved on average for canola and soybean crops in South Africa.
The Board will also strive to create the necessary infrastructure to bridge the gaps in technology transfer and research. It will also initiate adaptations according to the demands of the day. This will entail, inter alia, to identify researchers with a view of further training and exposure to attain and promote the mentioned PRF ideals.
Based on the enormous shift in emphasis noticed daily at international companies with a presence in South Africa, the Board resolved that the PRF should be pro-active in identifying those partners that could add value to achieving the PRF objectives. In an attempt to assist provinces where soybeans do not enjoy its rightful place in the crop rotation crop systems, the particular characteristics required, as well as specific cultivars for those areas, will be identified. This process will be implemented with the assistance of the said companies.
The objectives for 2020, namely to achieve an average yield of 2,5 tonnes soybeans per hectare on one million hectares to produce a total yield of 2,5 million tonnes and to produce 250 000 tonnes canola on 150 000 hectares, were reconfirmed.