23.03.2012

Sasol Agricultural Trust to play key role in growth

The Agricultural Business Chamber (ABC) has said that the Sasol Agricultural Trust, worth R30 million, launched recently will play a significant role in helping South African agriculture regain its potential for growth.

Over the next three years the trust will provide funds for research and programmes that will benefit the competitiveness of the country’s commercial and emerging farmers. CEO of the chamber, Dr John Purchase, explained that SA agriculture had not grown to its full potential during the past decade.

The Agricultural Business Chamber (ABC) has said that the Sasol Agricultural Trust, worth R30 million, launched recently will play a significant role in helping South African agriculture regain its potential for growth.

Over the next three years the trust will provide funds for research and programmes that will benefit the competitiveness of the country’s commercial and emerging farmers. CEO of the chamber, Dr John Purchase, explained that SA agriculture had not grown to its full potential during the past decade.

“There are barriers to new entrants, especially black farmers, and a shortage of real skills in the sector is one of many growth constraints,” he said. Meanwhile, Sasol explained that setting up the trust was not a requirement of the Competition Tribunal that had previously found the energy and chemicals company guilty of anti-competitive practices.

Jacqui O’Sullivan, Sasol’s group communications manager, said the trust was Sasol’s own initiative. “Agriculture is a key customer for Sasol, as we supply numerous products to the industry, directly and indirectly.” O’Sullivan said Sasol was looking for ways to increase its contribution to sustainable agriculture in South Africa. “We believe the Sasol Agricultural Trust will play a significant role in this regard,” she added.

Purchase suggested that deserving new entrants in the grain production sector, with an emphasis on black farmers, so as to diversify the agricultural production sector, should be prioritised as trust beneficiaries. “However, I would also suggest that current commercial farmers, particularly grain farmers, benefit, especially in deserving enterprise development projects,” Purchase said.


Farmer claims not valid – Sasol
Meanwhile, TAU SA issued a statement saying that it was disappointed in Sasol’s decision not to compensate farmers who had lost money due to the company’s uncompetitive practices in the fertiliser market. Claimant farmers would now resort to litigation against Sasol, the union said.

TAU SA is the facilitator for farmers attempting to retrieve financial losses they allegedly experienced by unknowingly buying uncompetitively priced fertiliser from Sasol between 1996 and 2004. The union said that after the Competition Tribunal found Sasol guilty of anti-competitive practices during the period, the company indicated that farmers with legitimate claims would be compensated for their losses.

However, the petrochemicals giant said that it did not believe farmers’ claims to financial compensation in this regard were valid.
Sasol’s Jacqui O’Sullivan said that in view of the fact that TAU SA has indicated its intention to litigate, it would be inappropriate for Sasol to comment further on the matter.

Atricle source: www.farmersweekly.co.za

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