Paving the way forward to export products more easily

Angie Khumalo, presenter of Mzansi Wethu’s agricultural show African Farming, was in awe of Theo van Rooyen’s apple and pear farm in the Western Cape, during her visit there. Van Rooyen even exports his products to the European market, complying with the rigorous standards set by European nations.

Khumalo then interviewed Ben Schoonwinkel, Head of Customer Marketing at Syngenta, on how Van Rooyen manages to comply with these standards of trade, especially since the European markets have stringent measures in place to limit chemical residue on the final product.

“Seasonality in South Africa creates opportunities for SA farmers to produce products for the European market specifically, like in the case of Theo and his apples,” Schoonwinkel said.

“However, it is not only the seasonality of our country though, but of course also the great farmers we have that makes it possible to export products successfully. Our farmers, especially in the Western Cape have support groups, in which they help one another, and share valuable knowledge and ideas to be able to produce these crops for the European markets.”

He stressed that it doesn’t come without challenges.

“We know European Union Regulation changes every now and then, especially when it comes to the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) values – the maximum level of chemical residue in the exported crops that can be detected.”

He said Syngenta is in the process of developing a new programme called eMAT (Electronic Market Access Tool) to help farmers with this.

“The tool is great for growers that are in the export market. They can put in their crop, cultivar, planting and harvest date and the tool will help them calculate the active ingredient that will be left over on their crop in the end.”

He said by doing this, growers are better able to plan where to sell their different products.

eMAT will be a constantly updated database of chemical degradation curves and residue requirements from across the globe, that will be accessible through an e-portal. Using the tool, the Syngenta advisor is able to define a spraying protocol for the farmer and to put data into eMAT.

This way, the farmer can view a market access map and be sure his product meets all the requirements. As an adaptable programme, if a farmer spots a pest issue, he or she is able to check how to counter it by remaining within required and expected residue limits.

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