A value chain for farm produce is a map of all activities that fresh produce undergo from its raw state until it reaches the end-user or consumer. It is a tool to help identify opportunities for farmers to add value to their produce and benefit from higher returns. A value chain portrays the many activities involved in... Read more
A value chain for farm produce is a map of all activities that fresh produce undergo from its raw state until it reaches the end-user or consumer. It is a tool to help identify opportunities for farmers to add value to their produce and benefit from higher returns. A value chain portrays the many activities involved in getting fresh produce and processed products from producer to consumer. It identifies participants in the chain including farmers, traders, processors, wholesalers and retailers. The activities in the value chain of farm produce are, in sequence, production, handling, processing, storage, transport, marketing and finally the consumer. Each activity of the chain increases the value of the produce and presents an opportunity to involve producers. Extension Suite Online® maps value chains of different crops to display the processes that crops can undergo before it reaches the consumer and identifies where farmers can exploit those opportunities by adding value to their produce.
Value adding improves the farmer's income by raising the value of agricultural produce and helps producers to exploit new markets. It is worthwhile to add value to produce as it gives a competitive advantage in the market, makes the product more appealing to the consumer, extends shelf life of produce and provide new markets to the producer. Since not every product will go directly to a fresh produce market, the value chain identifies activities to add value to crops. Activities include amongst others: first level handling, fresh packaging, small scale processing, storage and distribution. First level handling includes processes such as cleaning, sorting and grading, packaging and cooling (storage). Small scale processing comprises activities that transform fresh produce into products such as jams, jellies and pickled vegetables. All these processes are not capital intensive in terms of labour and equipment especially when undertaken on the farm. It is important to note that value adding cannot improve the inherent quality of crops. It remains vital for farmers to maintain their crops in the field properly for the best quality - and then to add value.
On Extension Suite Online® the path to the Value Chain is simple. By selecting the Economics information option in the Side-bar, the user will find the Adding Value option sub-item that displays the Value Chain in the Content panel. The Value Chain is an interactive image that opens an overview of each item that clicked of the selected crop.
Environmental data on ESO is accessed by clicking on the "Regional Data" navigation tab and then on "Environment". To find the required information user start by entering their specific... Read more
Environmental data on Extension Suite Online® is accessed by clicking on the "Regional Data" navigation tab and then on "Environment". To find the required information user start by entering their specific search criteria: They can either search for information by using the relevantfarm name, or by entering the coordinates for the farm, where both "Decimal Degree" and "Degrees, Minutes, Seconds" coordinate methods,are supported. By ticking the boxes in the side bar menu, users then select the specific environmental data needed. After selecting the necessary items, clicking the "Search" button will display the wanted data.
The eight sections of the Environmental Data available for users, are:
The structures of 7 of the sections are similar with an Explanation tab that provides a description of the specific data subdivision. A summary of the data of that subdivision is displayed below the explanation tab and finally links are provided to relevant documentation and maps on those sections. Only the Borehole section is different in that it displays the closet boreholes to the farm/point selected. Information about the boreholes can be accessed by clicking on the borehole links.
Various improvements were made to the Environmental data. The climate, soils and vegetation data were upgraded and the explanations improved.All maps available on the system were redeveloped with the latest available environmental data. Links to the maps are provided at the bottom of each section.Rainfall and Temperature graphs were added to assist users in understanding the prevailing climate in the specific area better.
The Soil Suitability information describes the specific Land Type as well as the Land Capability (rain-fed agricultural potential) on the specific farm or at the point of interest. In the documents section the Land Type inventory is included - this gives an indication of the terrain morphology (crests; mid slope; foot slope; and valley bottom) and the soils (%) that can be expected on the different terrain positions. Other information incorporated in the inventory includes the slope, clay content and texture classes of soils found in the area.
The information in the Vegetation sectionoriginates from the latest vegetation map of South Africa (VegMap 2006). Information regarding the biome, bioregion and vegetation type as well as the protection and conservation status is available.
The Grazing Potential section provides information on the livestock production potential of a farm, and was extracted from a grazing capacity map, developed from long-term satellite data.
Data and information will be upgraded on a continuous basis as and when new or data sources become available. Users, at present, have access to the most reliable and up to date information available for South Africa.
Extension Suite Online® can be used by Extension Officers to assist farmers in the identification and selection of feasible farming options that match the characteristics and location of their... Read more
Extension Suite Online® can be used by Extension Officers to assist farmers in the identification and selection of feasible farming options that match the characteristics and location of their farming enterprises. In this regard information contained in Extension Suite Online® will enhance and facilitate the evaluation of, and decisions on, the following critical factors and components that determine crop feasibility and the resultant selection of feasible and viable farming options:
Extension Suite Online® provides extensive market information on a wide range of crops, (volumes traded, and prices reached) and interprets data to identify profitable window periods, etc. towards addressing the above questions and therefore facilitating a selection of the commodities to be produced from a market supply and demand perspective.
Animal protection is essential for an enterprise to be profitable and includes providing a safe and healthy environment for animals in which to live. It includes... Read more
It was estimated in 2013 that around 12 million people in South Africa live with what people term as "food insecurity", bringing to our doorstep something seen on television as something "happening far away". Hunger/malnutrition is worst amongst the poor and illiterate and most of them are in or from the rural areas. Globally, it is the most important contributing risk factor for disease, illness and death. As part of this battle, a holistic and integrated approach for achieving food security during the prevailing food and nutritional situation in Africa is essential. Agriculture is the sole source for food, an important job provider, and a highly instrumental component in the clothing industry, for many. Agriculture surely must play a pivotal part in any action against hunger and malnutrition. In South Africa, agricultural upliftment will not be effective without the active involvement of Extension, and Extension Practitioners. In turn, Extension practitioners will not be effective if their efforts are not supported by the dissemination of agricultural information to small-scale producers and subsistence farmers.
Extension Suite Online® is a mainstay in the provision of information and solutions to assist extension advisors. Extension Suite Online® contains a wide range of information in A4 format - plant production pictorial guides - for printing, reproduction and distribution amongst producers. The so-called pictorial guides explain the total plant production process, in understandable cartoon format, for a number of crops. Truly a matter of, "a picture paints a thousand words". The process starts with a brief description of the crop, how and when to prepare the soil, includes crop maintenance advice and concludes with information on harvesting.
The pictorial guides are available to all Extension Suite Online® users and are available either within each production module in the sidebar under the information option, "Tools tips and guides", or under "Crop specific" information.
The Extension Suite Online® visibly supports the concept of using demonstrative teaching methods for extension officers - "teach by showing, learn by doing". The pictorial guides explicitly re-affirm the information that the extension officers have access to on Extension Suite Online®, to simulate and transfer that knowledge in a simplified and realistic manner to the farmer.
Animal protection is essential for an enterprise to be profitable and includes providing a safe and healthy environment for animals in which to live. It includes... Read more
Animal protection is essential for an enterprise to be profitable and includes providing a safe and healthy environment for animals in which to live. It includes the provision of sufficient food and water, prevention of overcrowding conditions and possible ill-treatment, and ensures that animals are healthy and free of parasites and diseases.
In any animal commodity, many diseases and parasites are present that can cause ill health. Nutrition and management also play crucial roles in the well-being of animals. Poor health leads to poor growth, declining production and reproduction, which will eventually result in lower profits.
Nutritional imbalances occur as a result of the over or under supply of essential nutrients. These imbalances in turn lead to homeostatic imbalances that cause stress in animal's bodies. Please remember that animals should be fed according to the type of animal one has (monogastrics versus ruminants), as well as according to age and productive stages.
Diseases and parasites are a common occurrence across the country even though animals, even when indigenous ones, may be resistant to them. A good way to prevent common diseases occurring is to follow an annual vaccination programme. Both external and internal parasites feed on the blood of animals resulting in anaemia and lower immune systems. However, parasites can be controlled by regular de-worming and dipping where parasite levels are high. Keeping animals in a clean environment also helps with prevention and spread of diseases and parasites.
An example of a health programme and vaccination schedule for the different animal commodities is available in Extension Suite Online® by going to the Production Information in the sidebar. Click on Health and Diseases for a detailed list of the most common diseases, parasites, poisonous plants, nutritional imbalances, injuries and ailments.
The Extension Suite Online® Problem Solver was created to assist users effectively with solving problems related to animal health. The problem solver assists in finding specific causes for certain symptoms that animals display. Problems relating to animal diseases and conditions can be found under Animal Health in the sidebar under the Problem Solvers section. This section takes the user through individual steps to select the most pronounced symptoms displayed in the animal(s) leading to a final list of diseases or conditions most likely causing specific symptoms displayed.
The Discussion Forum was launched on Extension Suite Online® during June 2012 and allows all Extension Practitioners in South Africa to share a common area on Extension Suite Online® where they may extend the learning... Read more
The Discussion Forum was launched on Extension Suite Online® during June 2012 and allows all Extension Practitioners in South Africa to share a common area on Extension Suite Online® where they may extend the learning and fact finding experience beyond the information provided on the system. Personal responses to forum topics are not limited in time or length and users now have the freedom to create topics and continue dialogue about the topics that interest them the most.
Forum topics are open-ended and designed to encourage users to take a position on issues. To respond to a forum topic requires organized thought and synthesis of concepts and if user's views were challenged, he or she may add carefully considered reasons to back up previous comments. This encourages critical thinking.
Extension Practitioners have the flexibility to reflect on their thoughts and read the responses of others. Whilst there may be dominant personalities within the Extension group, a Discussion Forum provides each user the opportunity to add comment that will be read by everyone, hence it allows for a democratic exchange of ideas, thoughts and opinions.
Since the discussions are being held online, users have the flexibility to add their input when they are ready to do so. Some may choose to answer questions immediately, while others may prefer to consider the responses of others first, before they formulate their own opinion and respond.
Users are allowed to set their own schedule for using the forum. The Extension Suite Online® Discussion Forum is available at all times of day or night to accommodate the user's work schedule and other activities. Since it is accessible from any Internet connection it allows participation wherever users are, even at farm level.
The users are provided and experience a professional communication process. Participants experience personal and academic gains as a result of their communication with their peers. A goal for the Extension Practitioner is to value such professional interchange, and seek it out amongst their colleagues, even across provincial borders.
The Discussion Forum is an important resource for content as well as point of contact with experts in various fields of agriculture. Since Agricultural Extension is somewhat isolated, the forum introduces practitioners to others in the field whom may become valuable professional and information partners.
On top of it all, the Discussion Forum offers the advantage of archiving discussions by users which may be referred to at a later stage when information is required.
Extension Suite Online® Discussion Forum was created for all users of Extension Suite Online® and we would like to encourage every user to make a contribution in an effort to draw all Extension Practitioners and Advisors across South Africa together and to share knowledge, ideas and experiences with each other in support of developing agriculture in the country.
Infrastructure can be defined as all those elements that play a role in the production and eventual selling of goods and services - therefore playing a significant role in the success of... Read more
Infrastructure can be defined as all those elements that play a role in the production and eventual selling of goods and services - therefore playing a significant role in the success of agricultural activities.
The main purpose of presenting infrastructure data is to provide appropriate information on, and easy access to, goods and services within the agricultural sector enabling extension officers not only to query data for a specific district, but also to assist farmers with information on farm level. During dry periods for example, a farmer may need to buy feed for his livestock or he may need to sell or slaughter animals. Extension Suite Online® not only assists in showing which services are located closest to a farmer, but will also provide information on alternatives to ensure access to better pricing options and services available.
To prevent infrastructure data from becoming dated and irrelevant, the Manstrat Agricultural Intelligence Solution (MAIS) GIS team continuously maintains and updates all sections of the GIS infrastructure database. To ensure that data is properly checked, corrected and validated, a number of principals and procedures are followed that includes internet searches in support of checking of each and every individual data record through phoning the establishment listed and verifying all available information while at the same time enquiring about any additional information. Further, the different departments of agriculture in the provinces are responsible to add and update available data to their infrastructure modules through the MAIS Data and Research Division, and anyone with available infrastructure data or corrections to existing data, may send that data in Excel or Word format to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To access infrastructure data, the user clicks on the Regional Data Navigation Tab in Extension Suite Online® to select the Infrastructure Tab. To search for an infrastructure item the user may use any one of three available methods:
Any of these search methods will allow a user to access the available information to the range of agricultural infrastructure datasets below:
Once the first rains fall, numerous types of weeds emerge and grow amongst crops. Obviously it is critical to remove these weeds before they start competing seriously with the crop... Read more
Once the first rains fall, numerous types of weeds emerge and grow amongst crops. Obviously it is critical to remove these weeds before they start competing seriously with the crop for nutrients and water; and the longer they are left the more they will affect the growth and final yield of the crop. If they are controlled by hand-weeding, it needs to be repeated several times to keep the field clean of weeds.
It is at this stage that farmers often notice that some weeds are most persistent and more difficult to control. This may be because of the local climate, the local soils, the crop rotations and various other reasons. Whatever the cause, a special effort has to be made to control these weeds. They could be grass-weeds, broadleaved weeds or sedges; the Weed Identification tool (under Problem Solvers, Crop Health side bar) helps farmers identify the problem weed and provides information on its growth habit and reproduction. These characteristics are the reason for its success as a weed in crops. Once the weed is identified the most appropriate cultural practices can be adopted for its control, or herbicides registered for use in the specific crop, can be applied. The weed identification tool provides this information on best cultural control practices and registered herbicides for use in the crop.
When using the tool, the first step is to select the group of weeds within which the problem weed falls. That is, "is it a grass weed, broadleaved weed, sedge or a Commelina species?" (Commelina species are separated from the other larger categories of weeds because they appear to be broadleaved weeds but are monocots; that is, they are more closely related to grasses and will be controlled by different herbicides). Within each group, weeds have obvious growth habits such as erect-growing, flat-growing or growing as creepers.
The second step is to select one of these categories. All the individual weed species of this type will then be displayed.
Finally the problem weed can be identified from its image and selected. Information on its growth, reproduction and distribution is then shown. In the example an upright broadleaved weed, common thornapple has been selected.
At the end of the displayed information, details on control of the weed can be accessed by clicking on the relevant icon.
For information on the registered herbicides in vegetable crops, for example, click on the underscored passage. A list of vegetable crops will appear and then select the crop of interest. All herbicides registered for the control of the specific weed in that crop, will be displayed together with the recommended times of application.
South Africa accommodates a full spectrum of animal production systems in agriculture with many modern, highly sophisticated and intensive livestock systems existing alongside traditional pastoral and subsistence systems... Read more
South Africa accommodates a full spectrum of animal production systems in agriculture with many modern, highly sophisticated and intensive livestock systems existing alongside traditional pastoral and subsistence systems. While the traditional subsistence methods of farming have been able to support communities for many years, there has been a need to address the feed shortages that are arising each year. While traditional systems are a part of rural cultural life, their inefficiency has become an increasing challenge in addressing food security in South Africa and elsewhere on the Continent.
Extension Suite Online® helps to bridge the gap between more modern sophisticated commercial systems and traditional subsistence systems by serving as an important information source and agricultural decision support tool in facilitating and advising farmers via extension officers towards identifying and selecting feasible, efficient farming options and management practices for their respective farming enterprises.
There are three concepts livestock farmers have to deal with, namely:
In order for farmers to be successful, they will need to understand the basic principles involved in these three concepts.
Animals are able to produce best when conditions are most favourable. In order for an animal to reach its genetic potential, the environment the animal finds itself in should be optimum. Animals out of their natural comfort zones may go into survival mode when only basic body functions are maintained. These animals very often are not productive hence poor performance and reproduction which has a negative impact on the animal product and market value.
Management therefore becomes crucial in order to manipulate the environment or the adaptability of the animal to its environment. In some cases the environment can be controlled to produce optimum conditions (environmentally controlled poultry and pig houses), however this is not always possible and farmers will need to find alternative solutions. This comes in the form of controlling nutrition as well as breeding.
South Africa has a vast variety of breeds serving different purposes in the animal market. Many have been imported into the country and over the years have been adapted to the local climates of South Africa or have been used as parent stock to develop new synthetic breeds. Animal breeders today are still making careful selections and improvements to their breeds to fit in with the ever continuing changes found in the environment as well as market demands.
While the natural veld makes up the majority of the diet for grazing animals, animals receiving high quality grasses and feeds, perform to their optimum. Ensuring the best possible feeds that provide animals with all the nutrients they require to maintain basic body functions; produce muscles during growth; and be able to reproduce and provide milk for their young; will ensure a better final animal product and ultimately ensure the success of the enterprise.
Extension Suite Online® provides all the relevant data in terms of production, management, nutrition, breeds and health that a farmer would need in planning a viable and efficient animal production system for maximum results.