registration open for Undercover Farming Expo 2014:

South African growers increasingly interested in protected cropping

The past two Undercover Farming Expos and Conferences (March 2012 and 2013), once more proved that food producers are showing keen interest in intensive agriculture. The statement by exhibitors that good business transactions are being concluded and the satisfaction of the conference delegates with the quality of information that is being transferred is further evidence that the commodity industry under protection in Africa is experiencing a larger influx. With this great history in mind, the Undercover Farming Expo and Conference organisers decided that this event earned its rightful entry in the diary of agriculture. The next Undercover Farming Expo and Conference will be held at the Saint George Hotel Events Centre in Irene, Pretoria, from 4 to 6 March 2014.

Johan Swiegers, organiser of the expo, says the main purpose of the Undercover Farming Expo and Conference is to supply timely information to food producers in South Africa - especially to current producers in the industry – which should enable them to overcome hurdles created by, amongst others, inflation, exchange rates and wage laws. “The renewed focus on the use of water by agriculture may force open land producers to consider alternative ways to remain in agriculture - like switching to intensive farming. This could have the effect that the current approximate thousand hectares under tunnels and five thousand hectares under shade net should expand faster than expected. Despite huge financial pressure being experienced by the local agricultural industry, there remains an element of constant lookout for new opportunities, which is also associated with new investments in alternative methods.”

It is exactly in this scenario that Undercover Farming Expo and Conference endeavor to make sense for its participants – to create business opportunities for new entrants and to give current producers some insight on new systems and value-added markets.

“To invest in intensive agriculture is not such an enormous leap as is generally expected – it is just another form of food production but with much higher returns. The fact that much less water is used in hydroponic systems, the smaller surface that is needed to farm maximally and the more affordable security aspects are a few of the advantages that is the convincing factor during the decision making process,” says Swiegers.

According to Swiegers the failed attempts at tunnel farming that can sometimes be seen from roads are merely the consequences of poor decision-making and misinformation. “In the current economic times in which the world finds itself, the numbers of these types of businesses are reducing daily. There are several good information and training institutions in South Africa and abroad where entrants can protect themselves against incorrect or poor management. The increased focus on systems that will lead to more food production with less natural and other resources is a highly talked about topic in agricultural circles.

“Undercover Farming Conference therefore also creates a platform where these and other discussions of importance for the industry can be discussed. Renewable energy systems are increasingly being found on farms and are therefore slowly but surely being incorporated in intensive agriculture. This is just another new facet that provokes more discussions because of the country's natural resources and energy crisis,” concludes Swiegers.

Interest groups, producers and new entrants will therefore greatly benefit by attending the Undercover Farming Expo and Conference from 4 to 6 March 2014 at the Saint George Hotel Events Center in Irene, Pretoria.

Bookings for exhibition space at the expo are now open. For more information visit the Undercover Farming Expo and Conference website at or contact Suzanne Oosthuizen at

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