Progress by Partnership – NWK and the North West province farmer
NWK is a massive and diversified player in the SA agricultural industry. Over the past one hundred years, the South African agricultural landscape has certainly seen its share of challenges and changes. Today, a century down the line, NWK still stands proud in supporting farmers in the North West Province through thick and thin, offering specialist services and the latest technology. In fact, whatever is required to ensure a smooth-running, modern farming operation, NWK has the logistics and expertise to supply.
There is hardly an element of the agricultural industry that NWK does not participate in.
As grains and oilseeds form a major part of agriculture in the Northwest, NWK is fully geared to provide producers of these crops with a comprehensive service — from agronomics to marketing. To make delivery as convenient as possible, silo facilities are strategic ally placed within NWK’s service area. Services include the weighing, grading, cleaning, drying and storage of various types of grain. In terms of marketing, NWK offers professional marketing, price risk management and stockading services to grain buyers and sellers in respect of white and yellow maize, sunflower as well as wheat.
The pressure on farmers to increase production in the face of macro-economic and climatic uncertainties, necessitates a range of expert partners.
That is why NWK offers a wide range of specialised precision farming services that includes:
* GPS Land Mapping
* Mechanical & Chemical Precision farming
* Soil analysis & mapping
* Specialised agricultural management services, ranging from agronomical and livestock management to agricultural economics.
The company also makes considerable investments in research and agricultural development to ensure optimal, sustainable production results.
One-stop convenience was the key word in the planning of LandMark. These large, well laid-out stores stock just about everything you could need in the line of farm goods, building supplies, home ware, working gear, toys and much more.
Faster, easier, higher output in the most cost-effective way; that is the goal of agricultural mechanisation. And that’s what the experts at NWK can assist you with. The company stocks:
* The latest New Holland tractors and harvesters.
* A choice of hay equipment from several leading manufacturers.
* The superb range of Case tractors and harvesters at selected outlets.
* Moreover, every piece of machinery enjoys solid backing in terms of parts and workshop services.
When it comes to soil enrichment and plant nutrition, it is not just a matter of “what you put in, is what you get out”. It is a fine, fine balance… a detailed scientific study of interaction and absorption.
The highly trained specialists available to farmers through the NWK-Omnia agency, offer professional advice, backed by quick and accurate analyses. NWK-Omnia’s services and products include:
* Laboratory testing of soil, leaf and juice samples;
* Comprehensive fertilisation requirement advice;
* A range of dry and liquid fertilisers as well as agricultural lime; and
* Advice and inputs for precision farming.
The company prides itself on understanding farming. NWK understands farmers’ unique insurance requirements. Their professional team of brokers are ready to offer customers the best products at the most competitive rates.
Harvest and input insurance;
Short term insurance;
Medical funds; and
From its humble beginnings, the Volkswagen name has grown to represent one of the widest ranges of consumer vehicles in the world. Noordwes Volkswagen brings all this to your doorstep, whilst also marketing a variety of used vehicles. And, as a member of the NWK family, Noordwes Volkswagen places a high premium on quality customer service and satisfaction.
NWK’s focus is on farmers, and therefore they offer competitive financing packages for production input costs, agricultural equipment, hire purchase financing and general farming supplies.
With feed being the most important component in livestock farming, Noordwes Feeds has designed the Opti range of products, which focuses on the specific needs of livestock during specific production cycles – be it cattle, pigs, broilers or laying hens. Technical support is offered along with the product ranges to ensure that farmers obtain the optimal balance between feed input and profit.
The past 100 years has seen the face of communication change considerably. For NWK to truly be a valuable partner to farmers, clever utilisation of the latest communication tools and marketing methods is required. In this way, their modern, streamlined marketing approach has contributed considerably to the growth of the company and benefiting our farmers and region as a whole. TABJ was able to speak with Johan Bexuidenhout, Manager of Corporate Marketing about what else the future holds for this unique company.
TABJ: Would you please speak to the priorities of NWK?
JB: Priorities change as circumstances change and NWK therefore adopts the principle of ‘testing the water’ on a regular basis. This means that we study the business environment in which we operate and depending on the outcome of that study we set our priorities and stretch targets.
Some of the priorities are:
To get the Opti Chicks hatchery to full capacity (that is 500 000 day old chicks per week) this year and to optimize the operation.
To finalize the expansion of the existing maize mill and to grow market share.
To focus on working capital management.
To roll out the grain sourcing strategy to increase capacity utilization of our storage facilities.
In terms of corporate governance – to see to the smooth implementation of the new Companies Act, the Consumer Act and other legislation.
TABJ: What has led to NWK being a top-tier SA business?
JB: NWK has been in business for more than a hundred years. From humble beginnings, NWK has grown to one of the more successful agri-businesses in South Africa. The team credits this success to a continual focus on providing excellent support to our farmers (for market access through the years), excellent customer value and a strong commitment to diversification into agro-processing.
TABJ: Please tell us about your recent investments in maize mill and broiler plant (day old broiler industry).
JB: Opti Chicks is part of NWK’s long-term strategy to diversify and invest in businesses to support its core business. The huge market demand for chickens and eggs is set to grow even further. To capitalise on this, NWK has set up large-scale rearing and laying sites as well as a hatchery. With regards to rearing and laying —rearing and laying sites have been erected in the Ottosdal district and the first chicks were placed in February 2009. Full production of approximately 100,000 eggs a day, is expected to be reached in June 2010.
The Opti Chicks hatchery in Lichtenburg is set to reach full production of 500,000 day-old broilers per week by July 2010. The major part of the off-set is ensured through an agreement with a leading market player for the weekly supply of day-old chicks.
As foremost agricultural services and input supplier in the North West Province, NWK also adds value to stakeholders products (maize, sunflower seed and wheat) in the manufacturing of maize meal, wheaten products, edible oils, dog food and feedstuff. When a gap in the broiler industry was identified, the decision was made in 2007 to become part of the supply chain of this specific market.
Furthermore, NWK is recognizing a worldwide demand for more affordable protein like white meat. According to the Department of Agriculture, the consumption of white meat increased from 6.24 kg per capita per annum in 1970/71 to 23.67 kg in 2005/06. The increase in the last five years alone was 17.8 per cent, in contrast to red meat, which decreased. According to the South African Poultry Association, the consumption of white meat could reach 30.8 kg per capita per annum by 2015. These figures underline the opportunity for growth in the broiler industry.
TABJ: What will the Opti Chick’s operation look like, and what considerations were made in its planning?
JB: Before embarking on the project, NWK Ltd did thorough research to determine the impact on the environment. The project will create approximately 140 jobs. It will also provide a new tax income for the Government, who could plough back the income into the North West’s infrastructure.
Opti Chicks’ operations will consist of a rearing and laying farm, as well as a hatchery. The breeding farm is being built on the farm Boschpoort in the Ottosdal district. The construction of the chicken houses started in October 2008 and the first chicks were placed on 27 February 2009. Every five weeks, approximately 21,000 female and 2,800 males will be placed in one of five rearing sites. At 22 weeks the chickens will be moved to a laying site on the same farm where the females will start laying eggs at 24 weeks. The chickens will remain there until they are between 64-66 weeks old, when they will be depleted. The farm in full production will produce approximately 100,000 eggs per day and full production will be reached in June 2010.
The hatchery is being constructed in Lichtenburg’s industrial area and when in full production will supply approximately 500,000 day-old broiler chicks of the COBB 500 breed to the market. The COBB 500 has a worldwide reputation for the lowest cost of producing chicken meat. It has been in development for over 30 years, selecting for more than 35 traits to suit a wide range of customer demands. Its outstanding uniformity and ability to thrive on lower cost nutrition is paying dividends in today’s market environment. The first chicks are expected in August 2009 and full capacity will be reached in July 2010. Opti Chicks has a supply agreement for the majority of the weekly production with a leading role player in the industry while the remaining chicks will be marketed on an ad hoc basis.
Regarding the maize mill, at the moment we have old and outdated equipment. Therefore we had to decide to either disinvest in the milling industry or to invest in proper and modern equipment. We are in a maize producing area therefore we took the decision to invest in a new plant.
TABJ: What do you foresee in the New Year for NWK?
JB: The new year will bring both challenges and opportunities. The challenges may include a dry season with El Nino still a threat. This may cause lower than normal crop (yields). This will have a knock-on effect on farmers not being able to fully repay production loans. On the other hand, the restructuring of the industry may lead to opportunities for horizontal growth. There are also investment opportunities in African countries that can be seized.
TABJ: What projects are you particularly proud of? How would you describe your experience with NWK?
JB: I think the investment in Opti Chicks was a great success, perhaps because it was a totally new industry that NWK invested in. It was a very steep learning curve that we had to go through—from appointing the right people, to project management, to development of new systems and procedures and the actual commissioning and running of the business. This success was due to commitment, dedication, hard work and an excellent team effort.