South Africa offers vast opportunities for Irish Agritech exporters
Ongoing uncertainty over Brexit has increased awareness among Irish companies of the need to diversify exports into new markets. In the agritech sector, where the consequences of a hard Brexit could be acute, South Africa offers vast opportunities for suppliers of agri-machinery and technology, as well as companies that offer livestock supplements and feed.
South Africa has the most diverse and productive agri-farming industry on the continent. In 2018, the overall agri value chain contributed 14pc to GDP, while 33pc of revenue earned from South African exports resulted from primary agri-produce. Additionally, the agri sector grew by 6.5pc in the third quarter of 2018.
Farming productivity and sustainability are key trends in South Africa and farmers are looking for new ways to improve their efficiency.
As they are willing to invest in innovative machinery and services that deliver value for money, the reputation that Ireland has developed for producing high-quality equipment has been well received by large commercial farmers.
At present, there is a demand for precision agricultural equipment, such as tractors, planters, balers, sprayers, storage, and soil-testing equipment, most of which are imported.
One Irish agri company, Abbey Machinery, moved into the market in 2018 after a sales enquiry led to one of its diet feeder machines proving its mettle in the country's demanding Highveld region.
Michael O'Grady, sales, marketing and business development manager at Abbey Machinery, said: "The dealer who contacted us had initially seen opportunity only for our feeders but one of the mega farmers also saw a need for one of our slurry tankers because it had more elements he could use than his current machine, which was also imported from Europe.
"There's lots of competition in South Africa - we're not the first foreign agricultural machinery manufacturer in the market - but farmers liked the quality of the machine, how well it was built, and how well it was able to handle the feed."