Bontera SA

August 2023

In a world increasingly plagued by pressing societal issues and environmental concerns, conscious individuals and companies are re-evaluating our roles and responsibilities, seeking ways to positively impact a better future. Post-COVID, this sentiment has only grown stronger, with a heightened awareness of the need to address sustainability, social well-being, and the welfare of our children and their children.

Gerhard Coetzer, Managing Director of Bontera South Africa, shares his thoughts.

"In pursuing a better tomorrow, we have defined 'doing better in life' as achieving more for less while ensuring that progress is sustainable and doesn't come at the expense of harm to others.

"Farmers are the bedrock of our society, and obviously, the primary goal in agriculture is to provide a reliable and continuous food source for the population. But we need to be looking beyond this vital service. We need to look at doing better for ourselves and our children. At the heart of our philosophy lies the principle of enriching people's lives. This means going beyond profit margins, focusing on providing solutions that enhance crop yields and quality and nurturing a clean, healthy environment for all. By embracing natural and sustainable practices, we aim to share its knowledge and resources with farmers and growers, empowering them with innovative tools to solve age-old problems more efficiently and eco-consciously while still providing and even increasing crop yield," says Coetzer

A recent great example of this philosophy and practicality in action was with a partnership that enabled the Farmer to achieve more, with a better product for consumers, while reducing the impact on the environment, assisting in future crop growth, was with a Farmer in the Southern Province of Zambia. Following a Bontera programme, he harvested an average of 18.9 tonnes of sweet piquanté peppers per hectare, all with significantly reduced chemical inputs. His adjacent fields - where the Bontera programme was not followed - yielded less than 15 tonnes per hectare.

"We envision a future where agriculture thrives without relying on harmful chemicals, reducing water consumption, and promoting a harmonious coexistence with the environment. Our commitment lies in supporting crops with their natural microbial structures, reserving synthetic interventions for exceptional cases rather than routine practices," continues Coetzer.

However, there are challenges to be faced in implementing innovative solutions such as these within the agricultural industry. Regulatory bodies can sometimes be slow to embrace innovations and new practices, hindering the speed of progress. Categorisation of product registration is also limited to conventional chemical regimes and reinforces a conservative mentality less likely to adopt new, more regenerative, more sustainable agricultural practices.

“We can't keep doing the same things expecting a different outcome, so the company remains undeterred and advocates for sustainable and innovative approaches to agriculture.

"This is not only key to actively caring about what is happening in the environment and the soil our food is grown in, but also to ensure future food security, which is a major and growing concern here and across the globe," adds Coetzer.

The company's close collaboration with growers and stakeholders is crucial in fostering a sustainable agricultural ecosystem. Bontera's hands-on approach involves spending time on farms, listening to growers' challenges, and providing tailor-made solutions. Feedback and insights from the field are invaluable for their research and development teams, driving continuous improvement and the pursuit of excellence.

Bontera's vision of "doing better in life" extends far beyond profitability. By championing sustainability, enriching lives, and fostering innovative practices, the company sets a powerful example of how individuals and companies can positively impact the world.