A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the University of Pretoria (UP) and the Animal Feed Manufacturers Association of South Africa (AFMA) to the value of R50 million for the establishment of a feed mill research facility was officially signed on 11 December 2018. This agreement paves the way for the establishment of a training and research feed mill facility at UP’s Miertjie le Roux Experimental Farm near Bronkhorstspruit.
According to Prof. Cheryl de la Rey, UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal, “This UP AFMA feed mill research facility will take the relationship to a new level with a partner on the scale and impact of AFMA – it is a great partner to have in South Africa, Africa and internationally – especially when combined with a research-intensive university such as UP.”
Prof. De La Rey also emphasised that, “The University has a long and successful history in agriculture, seeing that we celebrated the centenary of agriculture at UP in 2017. This new research facility and laboratory will serve as a conduit for a number of related research and education activities in both animal and plant agriculture, which are desperately needed by the agricultural industry, the National Department of Agriculture, and a number of other scientific disciplines such as biosciences, environmental, and climate research. These trans-disciplinary research initiatives will contribute to new discoveries in climate-smart agriculture, food safety and food security.”
Mr De Wet Boshoff, Chief Executive Officer of AFMA, was equally proud of the culmination of the efforts that went into making this agreement official. “AFMA’s long-term vision is to be ahead of the curve, to be visionary and proactive.”
He explained how this partnership brings together the three pillars of skills development envisaged by AFMA. “The first pillar was the development of a feed mill curriculum, the second was to partner with AgriSETA regarding e-learning and other available platforms, and today the third pillar was formalised, namely the signing of the official agreement with UP.”
The training and research feed mill facility is an initiative of the AFMA Board of Directors, driven by Dr Hinner Köster, Adjunct Faculty Professor at Kansas State University in Manhattan and Chairperson of the TuksAlumni Association, and took close to six years of planning and cooperation. “What makes this facility extra special, is the fact that it will be the very first of its kind in Africa for feed milling,” Boshoff says.
Prof. Edward Webb, Deputy Dean: Research and Postgraduate Education in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and former Head of the Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences, played an instrumental role in the process. “UP has a long-standing association with AFMA though its graduates, many of whom currently serve on the AFMA board, or who serve as leaders and experts in the animal feeds industry,” Prof Webb says. “This state-of-the-art facility will represent the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, and it will be a first step in the development of the UP Miertjie le Roux Experimental Farm at Rayton as a high-tech education and research facility.”
From left: Prof Stephanie Burton (Vice-Principal: Research and Postgraduate Education), Mr De Wet Boshoff (CEO: AFMA), Prof Cheryl de la Rey (Vice-Chancellor and Principal) and Dr Hinner Köster (AFMA Board of Directors and Chairperson: TuksAlumni Association).
According to the MoA between UP and AFMA, AFMA will be responsible for the funding of the design and construction of the training and research feed mill facility. AFMA will, via its members and industry role players, contribute to the laboratory and other equipment necessary for the establishment and ongoing operations. UP will contribute the site and infrastructure, as well as the final operating of the mill with the assistance of AFMA specialists.