Banner Advancing Life Around the World by Growing More with Less

Advancing Life Around the World by Growing More with Less

Netafim South Africa recently invited members of the media to tour the factory in Kraaifontein and visit a blueberry farm near Franschhoek. The team shared a special message with the media about our responsibility towards efficient irrigation, the potential impact of precision irrigation and the Netafim vision.

Facts about increasing water scarcity, unpredictable rainfall, declining water quality and poor water management have been dominating conversations about food security, the future of agriculture and irrigated agriculture. The water scarcity picture is painted globally and there is increasing pressure on the global agricultural industry to use less water.

In South Africa, the Creamer Media Water Report of August 2021 predicts that water demand will exceed supply by 17% in 2030 and even more in the years thereafter. This will be driven by increased water demand in the municipal, industrial and agricultural sectors. The report further reminds us that the South African agricultural sector, at 62%, is the country’s biggest water user. This statement is shared in the context of the importance of the industry to the economy, job creation and food security.

A lot can be said about poor municipal water management and wasted water in other industries, but the fact remains that the agricultural industry has a definite responsibility to handle the water it has access to with care through more efficient irrigation.

Agriculture is challenged to produce more with less - to feed the rapidly growing population with limited resources whilst protecting the environment for future generations. Efficient irrigation is not only about using water responsibly, but also about the vital task of ensuring food security and sustainability across the globe.

With massive competition for water-use between industries, the pressure on the agricultural industry to use less water is bound to increase. Agriculture must become increasingly purposeful and efficient in the way water is used. The pressure is on farmers, but fortunately, they are not alone and solutions exist to handle this pressure. All roleplayers, including government, industry, academia, and organised agriculture must work together in reaction to this call.

A variety of irrigation methods exist, each with a different level of efficiency and different advantages and disadvantages. Precision irrigation methods can ensure that the maximum is gained from every drop of water used in agriculture, supporting the industry in its effort to use water with more purpose and efficiency.

As an industry, we cannot leave it to farmers to fight the water scarcity battle alone. Their effort can only be fruitful if government tightens water regulation and improves water management, distribution and storage, if industry supports them with tools and knowledge and if all water users use water sparingly.

If we are not proactive now to manage our water resources sustainably, dire consequences will follow. Water scarcity poses a risk to our social order, food and economic security and ultimately human existence. We believe that we can only take the lead in this regard as a united industry. Massive value lies in strategic partnerships among agribusinesses to ensure sustainable agriculture. We must dare to partner for success to make it happen and finally create an impact.

Why precision irrigation?

The offer made by precision irrigation is clear: Achieve higher yields while saving time and money by delivering the correct amount of water and nutrients at the correct time and in the right place with no waste. This promise is made independent of the topography, climate, and many other factors.

Experience has shown that precision irrigation massively contributes to both water-use efficiency and fertiliser-use efficiency. It can save up to 50% in water usage and 30% in fertiliser usage, while increasing crop productivity by between 30 and 50%. It also leads to significantly reduced labour and energy costs.

Nearly a third of South Africa’s agricultural production depends on irrigation. The irrigation type mix has changed significantly over the past 50 years alongside a drastic increase of hectares under irrigation. This trend is shown and predicted to continue in the 2019-graph below shared by Felix Reinders. (Please note that the term ‘micro’ in this graph indicates both drip and micro-sprinkler irrigation.)

The adoption of precision irrigation is on the rise. The mass adoption of precision irrigation is however not yet a reality and we want to change that. The impact on food security, the environmental impact of agriculture and farmer livelihoods can be massive. We do know that there is still a long way to go, hence our commitment to drive this adoption, by sharing expertise and supplying quality products.

The Netafim purpose

This brings us to the Netafim purpose. Our purpose is to advance life around the world by helping farmers grow more with less. How – by driving the mass adoption of precision irrigation and providing innovative precision irrigation solutions. Why – to fight water, land, and food scarcity.

Netafim is part of the Orbia group. Orbia is a community of companies bound together by a shared purpose: to advance life around the world. Orbia has its presence in five business groups, each dealing with industries that are vital to the way we live today and what tomorrow will look like. One of the business groups is precision agriculture, which addresses the global challenge of finding a way to feed the world sustainably. Orbia’s involvement in precision agriculture is achieved by Netafim and our purpose to help farmers grow more with less.

The Orbia purpose is perfectly embodied by its ImpactMark in lieu of a logo. Orbia knows that its goals are fluid and want to share their progress as they strive towards its aspired goals. This led the brand development team to create an ImpactMark - an ever-changing measure of the company’s commitment to long-term financial health, environmental sustainability, and social progress. Plotted on a circular grid, the ImpactMark measures progress against six factors related to people, planet, and profit. It is updated each year to reflect the latest data, demonstrating progress toward the company’s ambitious goals over time.

As global leader in precision irrigation, we believe we have a responsibility to ensure that water is used as efficiently as possible in agriculture around the globe. On local soil, Netafim South Africa is working hard to affect the adoption of smart irrigation across the Southern African region. It is important to take note that Netafim is a global company and that the best in technology and knowledge from around the world is brought to Africa through our Netafim South Africa team. Not only that, but we also have the privilege to share the lessons we learn in the often-challenging African conditions with our colleagues across the globe. This means that the rest of the world can also learn from the lessons we learn and that product innovation can be influenced by our needs.

We believe that the drive for mass adoption of precision irrigation must be about much more than the provision of precision irrigation solutions. Our belief is that success will depend on several factors: products, people, partnerships, and knowledge. We are therefore called to share knowledge with farmers and all role players in the irrigation and wider agricultural industry. Even the best products will not lead to success if they are not applied, operated, and maintained correctly and if the user is not supported with knowledge.

Our field team is strategically positioned to ensure that our products can be implemented with optimal success through the expertise of our employees in combination with years of accumulated knowledge as the leader in precision irrigation solutions. The Netafim sales team is structured as technical advisors, rather than sales consultants. We sell our products through a widespread retail network, while the agronomy and technical support teams offer unique support in the field. This is to ensure that every end-user of a Netafim product on any farm has access to the expertise to apply our quality products for maximum return on investment. To add further value, a Netafim services solution is currently in development that will support the optimal implementation and maintenance of precision irrigation solutions in the field. More will be communicated about Netafim Services in due course.

Netafim builds its success on its quality products, the expertise of its employees, customer partnerships knowledge and experience. All our actions are built around these pillars and are aimed at helping the farmer grow more with less.