Free State Business 2021

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OVERVIEW VKB is already a diverse group, with the capacity to produce soybean meal and soybean cake and flour from its plants, mills and factories. Grain Field Chickens, a large abattoir in Reitz, is one of the company’s biggest facilities in the province. The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which has a 23% stake in the project, aims to help develop the Free State as the poultry hub of South Africa. VKB has six agro-processing companies including VKB Flour Mills and Free State Oil and is active in auctioning, storage, packaging and fuel sales, among other activities. VKB’s headquarters are in Reitz in the eastern part of the province and the group is one of the province’s largest employers. The Imbani Homsek Group is an integrated dairy-products producer with one of the biggest Ayrshire herds in the world. The head office of Country Bird Holdings is in Bloemfontein: its brands are Supreme Chicken, Nutri Feeds and Ross (breeding). Country Bird Logistics controls 45 chilled and frozen vans.

Image: Agricultural Research Council Clover has three factories in the Free State: Bethlehem (milk powder, whey mixtures and creamers); Frankfort (butter, the largest such factory in the country, where ghee and roller dried milk powder is also made) and in Heilbron (whey, buttermilk, condensed milk and packaging). Not many rural landing strips have to deal with 376 aeroplanes and 63 helicopters in a short space of time. That’s what Bothaville had to do when it again hosted the country’s largest agricultural festival, NAMPO Harvest Day, in 2019. Grain SA’s big day had 775 exhibitors catering to 81 345 visitors. Bothaville is on the western edge of the Free State and the town falls under the North West in the organisational chart of giant agricultural company Senwes, which has its headquarters in Klerksdorp. The rest of the Free State is divided into three regions by Senwes, which deals with about 20% of the country’s oilseeds and grain through its 68 silos. The province supplies significant proportions of the nation’s sorghum (53%), sunflowers (45%), maize (45%), potatoes (33%), wheat (30%), groundnuts (32%), dry beans (26%), wool (24%) and almost all of its cherries (90%). Red meat and dairy are other important products. Game hunting is a significant sector, and several large Free State farms have been converted from stock to game farms. Crop production represents about two-thirds of the province’s gross agricultural income. The main crops are maize and wheat. Sunflowers, sunflower seeds, sorghum and soy beans are other major crops. The Mangaung Fresh Produce Market plays a vital role in the sector, catering as it does to householders, bulk buyers, informal traders, agents and farmers. ■

Online Resources

Image: Omnia

Agricultural Research Council: Bothaville: Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development: Grain SA: