That much was evident from the recent NAMPO Harvest Day, South Africa’s biggest agricultural show and, it is said, the fifth-biggest in the world. As a growing force in agricultural insurance, Hollard Insure was there.
More than 81 000 people flocked to the tiny Free State town of Bothaville this year, to see – and buy – the latest in farming technology, network, and do individual and collective strategic planning.
“Agriculture is no longer just a man on a tractor somewhere in the veld. It’s a fully fledged commercial environment requiring major capital investment – and, of course, cutting-edge insurance,” says Andries Wiese, head of Hollard Agri.
The level of technology on offer by the 775 exhibitors underlined the need for relevant and up-to-date insurance solutions to various exposures, and for technologically advanced equipment.
“That’s no understatement: the capital outlay required for a commercial farmer to do it properly is eye-watering, with some kinds of equipment worth millions and even tens of millions of rand,” says Wiese.
“And that’s the whole point. Our mind’s-eye cliché of farmers, wearing khaki and steering a tractor back and forth over a field, is becoming less and less relevant. Farmers are increasingly businesspeople, integrating their businesses both vertically and horizontally into the greater agricultural value chain.
“This exposes them to what is essentially no longer just agriculture, but a fully fledged commercial environment. The challenge for an insurer such as Hollard is to remain relevant and provide solutions that address this wider spectrum of involvement.”
This means pulling other classes of insurance – such as engineering, trucking, cyber and so forth – into the mix, and combining them in smart ways to come up with product solutions that extend way beyond crop and livestock covers.
Hollard Agri’s product offerings are doing just that. Late last year it introduced a substantially revised basket of agri products to meet the specific needs of the modern farmer.
“If nothing else, the show illustrated to us that we’re taking the right approach. The agri sector is changing so fundamentally, that we can no longer take a business-as-usual approach to agricultural insurance.
“Our interactions with farmers, brokers and members of the public – many of them return visitors from the 2018 show – were heartening. Hollard definitely is now becoming a recognised force in agriculture, and we had very positive engagements and enquiries around our various offerings,” says Wiese.
The current difficult macro-economic environment and the ongoing drought certainly brought a sense of realism to NAMPO. Grain SA, which organises the show, reported that some exhibitors racked up record sales and acquired strong leads. This was underpinned by cautious planning and evaluation of products and offerings by visitors.
Visitors thus took more time evaluating various value propositions and did less impulse buying; while there were more individual transactions happening than last year, the individual transactions were perhaps less extravagant than in the past, and quite rightly so.
That said, Grain SA has reported a positive attitude among agricultural producers, with less uncertainty than in 2018, and a more solution- and growth-driven approach to the future.