Saturday, February 6, 2010

Monday, February 8

10:00 p.m. Greetings all. The last of the group has landed safety in Sioux Falls. We arrived a day late, bu given the circumstances of weather in Washington, DC, it is impressive that we all got of there.

Thanks for watching ouru blog. We hope you have enjoyed learning about South Africa as much as we did.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

After traveling via motor coach and airplane for 40 hours (thanks for figuring that out for us Brenden), nine SDARL Class V members are back in good old, South Dakota. We had a smooth flight with much more room to spead out and relax on the plane than on the trip to South Africa. Our adventure through US Customs also went smoothly with no one having trouble and nothing getting confiscated due to lack of documention. Although it was hard to leave the group that left for Alldays to enjoy a few more days of South African adventures and education, it was great to see family members meeting us at the airport. We eagerly await stories from our classmates still in South Africa and wish them the same smooth trip home we had. With gradution being Feb. 27 and 28, it's hard to comprehend that our official SDARL education is amost complete. We then join the ranks to make SDARL alumni 150 strong and move forward with our challenge to held educate and advocate for agriculture in South Dakota, the United States, and as we know now, around the world.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday, Feb. 2

Happy groundhog day! We are not sure if Phil saw his shadow in South Dakota, he sure would have in South Africa. Members extending their stay have arrived at the lodge where we were greeted with a "Beware of crocodiles" sign. Our chalets are situated, ironically, on the Alligator River, which happens to be extremely high now eliminating the chance encounter with a croc.

Host Bertus welcomed the group to Alldays with a typically American lunch of burgers and fries. We look forward to hearing from the rest of the group who have just taken off for their flight back to the US. Bertus gave us a good overview of life around Alldays, which includes farming and game hunting. Several members have visited his farm where they helped disc the fields that he will soon plant to soybeans.

Many educational opportunities still away the group today. We are about to enjoy a brie (BBQ) outside. Temps today were in the mid-80s but the evening is cooling off beautifully. Tonight we will end a beautiful day around the campfire.

Ray Epp

Goodbye (for some) to South Africa

After a final 5:30 am safari, Class V members packed up and are heading back towards Johannesburg, to the airport for 10 members, and for the other 23, further north to the sparce Alldays area. Postings after this may be limited as internet connection may be difficult. We will do our best. Here's to our safe travels home.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Children and Mangos oh my!!!

SDARL Class V awoke to another beautiful morning at the Hannah Lodge. The group prepared for a warm day as the temperature was to rise to 106 degrees. We gathered our luggage and boarded the coach for a short drive to Maepa Private School, a local black primary school. This school serves three local villages in the area.

Upon entering the driveway some members of the group were surprised to see the school surrounded by razor wire to keep the children safe. The building and grounds were quite dilapidated, but the children’s joy and excitement impressed the group. We were greeted with singing and dancing as we arrived. The group was addressed by the principal who explained there were 135 students in grades K-7. The school was government supported; the budget for the year was only $7000. With this small amount the school was run for the entire year. The SDARL team brought with them many gifts, the children especially loved the soccer ball! After some teary goodbyes we were off to the Bavarian mango farm.

The class first observed a slideshow that showed the process of growing the mangos from tree to plate. Harvest on the mango farm begins in late December and finishes in March. This period is called the “100 days of madness.” There are over 1500 people employed to harvest and package the fruit from this 5000 acre fruit farm. An alarming issue effecting this farm is the presence of HIV in over 29 percent of the workforce. Management explained that the process could be more mechanized, but with such high umemployment they felt a social responsibility to employ as many as possible.

We concluded the day at the Kapama Lodge with a game drive and a farewell to South Africa supper.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Panoramic View

Day 8 of our international travel seminar was expansive in both sights and sounds. From a visual perspective, we saw the best South African panoramic sights to date. Named for Dutch settlers in the early 1800’s, Bourke’s Potholes Nature Reserve has a rich, colorful history at the fork of two rivers. Locals indicate the River of Sorrow and the River of Joy were named after a scouting party who was sent to secure a ship port on the Indian Ocean portion of the continent and did not return for more 30 days –thus the River of Sorrow. After several months and move of the settlement to the other river, the scouting party returned and the settlers named the second river “River of Joy”.

Three Rondawells is a mountain range with beautiful valleys that truly provide a grand majestic view. At 1,829 meters above sea level, it was the perfect place for a class photo.

The group was also blessed to have one of our game guides and a member of one of the local villages – Solly Manyike – shared facts and stories about life in his native village (pop. 6,000). Solly shared that men can not marry until age 25 and women until age 22. In addition, men can have more than one wife as long as they can afford them. The Village Chief has enormous power and makes all major decisions including who can receive land as well as punishments for crimes. The Chief’s first son from his first wife is the next Village Chief upon his father’s death.

The group ended the evening with game drive where we saw several types of antelope, rhino and zebra. The group enjoyed authentic African food and native dance. Our view of South Africa has been truly a “panoramic view”!!!

Ray Smith, Jody Heemstra, and David Lambert

Saturday, January 30, 2010

From Cows to Antelope

Welcome to Day 7 of the South Africa adventure with Class V. The group experienced a South African thunderstorm last night and a short power outage. However today was a beautiful day. After breakfast the class boarded the motor coach and headed for the farm of Gerrit Roos. The group was greeted with great hospitality. The Roos Farm consists of 2000 head of cattle, 3600 head of Merino sheep, maize, and soybeans. In addition to the farming operation they manage a soybean crushing facility. The family farm includes Gerrit’s parents, his wife, and two sons. In addition they employ 22 full time employees.

The soybean crushing plant crushes 3500 tons of soybeans a year. The soybean meal has an average crude protein of 46% and they sell the oil for further processing. The meal is sold to local hog and chicken producers. The maize and soybeans look just the crops we grow in South Dakota. The Merino sheep lamb twice a year in January and February as well as July and August. The farm uses artificial insemination and then runs the bulls for 90 days.

The class had great conversation and enjoyed an excellent meal for lunch, which included a traditional African dish Bobutie. Mrs. Roos opened her home to any of the class that wanted to see and talk about the African housewife. Their hospitality was superb. The two sons are planning a trip to South Dakota in early summer. The class is anxiously awaiting their arrival.

From the Roos Farm the group traveled to Hannah Lodge a private game reserve. Upon arrival to our resort we saw 12 different species of African wildlife. The class went on a short game drive and learned about the Sable breeding project at Hannah Lodge. After the game drive the group learned about their conservation and breeding practices. The Hannah Lodge provides a thatch room hut with a view of the African landscape that is sure to take your breath away.

Posted by Jeremy Lehrman, Bryan Prins and Frank Bloom.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Adaptability Photo 2

Adaptability Photo 1


Today’s adventures lead us west of Johannesburg to “Far Deal” School, located in Zuurbekom near Soweto. The school operates with the intention of providing agricultural training, skills and human development to socially disadvantaged blacks with the intention of returning those skills to their local families and communities. Currently Sabina Khoza, the school’s founder and leader sends 63 students at a time through 8 months of training that is 70% practical and 30% theory. Only 39% of the students are sponsored with aid to take training, the other students are put through the training utilizing donations and income from produce sales. Training Development and Sustainability with limited resources is the mission statement for the Fair Deal School. We were warmly greeted by Sabina, staff and students and left with handshakes, hugs, some tears and a deeper understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities these students face in their communities.

Tracking north, we headed through a small mountain pass to Inyoni Crocodile Farm to discover the concept of raising crocs for hide and meat. We learned that sex of the crocs can be pre-determined by temperature during incubation of the eggs. Hide harvest doesn’t begin until at least five years of age and reproduction doesn’t occur until seven years of age. We viewed small to large crocs ranging from two to 18 feet in length, with crocs weighing more that a ton. Our gracious hosts also treated us to a wonderful meal of sausage, salads and steaks.

Our next visit was to see Dr. Morne de la Rey at Embrio Plus Centre where he gave us a brief history involving the start of the veterinary practice with his father in 1979. Dr. Morne began with bull collection at the age of 14 years. The development of breeds that blend the disease and heat resistance of the Africana and the meat producing ability of the Simmental was sped up by the use of embryo transfer and artificial insemination. The Centre ships semen and embryos all over the world. The world’s first successful bovine cloning was produced at the Embrio Plus Centre.

The day concluded with a discussion of agricultural financing in South Africa. Dr. Hans Balyamujura, from ABSA bank spoke with the class about the challenges of ag lending in post-apartheid South Africa. Different soil, similar economics shape the landscape with the industry facing high land and input costs while marketing commodities being of their biggest challenges. The governments’ post-apartheid goal of 30% land exchanges to disadvantaged black’s also present large lending challenges to banks. The ag outlook is favorable, but the global recession presents similar challenges to South Africa as we are experiencing in the United States.

GSM: Kevin Hoff

Reporters: BJ Richter, Tammy Anderson

Thursday, January 28, 2010

From Gate to Plate

Today was an extremely busy and educational day. We started out with a presentation under the gazebo on the grounds of the Irene Country Lodge near Pretoria listening to Dave Ford who is the Executive Director of the Feedlot Association and Chairman of the Red Meat Industry Forum in S.A. The meat industry in S.A. is facing very similar issues that our own producers face but their main goal is to provide consistently sufficient quantities of meat, and try to educate the rural producers about the standards of the industry such as vaccination and marketing.

We drove 45 minutes to the southwest of Johannesburg to Karan Beef in Heidelberg and were greeted at the abattoir (slaughter house and packing plant) by the American flag flying high alongside the S.A. flag. Elias Mosuwe started our tour at the unloading point and took us through every section of the processing facility where they process 1300 head of cattle from the Karan Beef Feedlot per day. They sell packaged meat to retailers along with sides of beef (swinging beef) to various butcheries who cut their own meat. We even enjoyed the opportunity to browse through their public store where their coolers were filled with all cuts of meat along with chilled bones, clean tripe, minced lungs, heart, brisket, pickled hump, corned tongue, tail and others. They are a source of affordable meat and a very integral part of the rural community.

From there we were hosted at the Karan Beef Feedlot, which is the largest in the southern hemisphere, and served delicious grilled rump steaks. This 120,000 head feedlot was absolutely impressive. The Research and Development Manager, Ben, boarded the bus with us for an impressive tour of the processing facility, feedlots and feed mill where they mix and deliver 1100 tonnes of ration per day to the 1000 pens of cattle. The cattle are bought as weaners at 7 -8 months of age and fed for 125 days on rations that contain maize, ground straw, ground hay, hominy chop, brewer’s grains, molasses meal, minerals and monensin. Karan Beef has grasped the concept of being totally integrated from feeding to bringing the meat to the plate.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Hokaai Butchery in Pretoria where everyone got the opportunity to taste S.A.’s most popular meat, biltong(dried meat). After a few people were definitely hooked, some made purchases of the delicious biltong. At the lodge, Dr. Martin Lazenby, a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, told us about religion and cultural differences among the S.A. community.

Submitted by Nancy Johnson and Dave Schroth.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Moving Out of Cape Town

The class awoke to another beautiful day in Cape Town. While we are thankful for sunny skies and warm weather while here in Cape Town, we are even more thankful for the news from back home that the snow and wind has subsided.

Our first stop of the day was at Greenpoint Stadium near the waterfront in Cape Town. Greenpoint Stadium is one of 8 new stadiums being built or remodeled for the World Cup soccer tournament which begins in June all across South Africa. It was a unique honor that we were the first sizable group to receive a “group tour” of the recently finished stadium. The stadium hosted its first soccer match last Saturday and several more warm-up events are planned prior to the big tournament. The stadium is designed to have an ocean theme with flowing lines across the upper deck and light but multi-colored seats intended to resemble the shades of sand and corral at a beach. We had the good fortune to walk out onto field level of the pitch (the game field) but we were instructed sternly, repeatedly and seriously to not walk onto or touch the grass. We finished our brief tour of the stadium with a group picture in the stands followed by another first – the first group of South Dakota agricultural leaders to perform the wave at Greenpoint Stadium.

After leaving the stadium, we took a short bus ride to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront district. This is a major tourist attraction in Cape Town with high-end retail shopping, lots of restaurants, unique gift stores, boat tours, helicopter rides and lots of people watching. Most members of the group set off on a mission to finish off gift lists and find something memorable to bring home from Cape Town. A few in the group took the opportunity for a helicopter tour of the cape and were fortunate to spot whales from the air. Others enjoyed a fresh seafood lunch at one of the many oceanfront restaurants. Everyone was happy to have a few hours to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of this beautiful ocean-side city.

After lunch we headed about an hour out of Cape Town to the Paarl area for a tour of the Vesuvio Estates, where they raise 500 hectares of various olive trees, crushing their harvest into award-winning Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Our host, Gert Van Dyk, is the farm and factory manager. Our tour began with a brief overview of the farm operations and was followed by a tour of the onsite processing facility, an olive oil tasting and, finally, a driving tour through the farm. The farm has over 150,000 trees and of their 500 hectares, only about 30 are irrigated. Their olive harvest will begin in mid-April and will finish sometime in July depending on yield. The current owners of the farm bought it in a state of disrepair in 1996 and through intensive management of their resources and some expansion of hectares planted have grown production from 50 tons in 1996 to 1200 tons expected this year. Other facts that we found interesting were that a new tree will take 6-8 years to become fully productive and that an olive tree has a virtually unlimited productive life. Vesuvio does not export any of their olive oil as demand in South Africa alone is greater than what they can produce.

As I write this, our class is on a South African Airlines flight to Johannesburg. We expect to arrive at Irene Country Lodge near Pretoria at about 9:30 this evening. The weather reports look good for our highly-anticipated tour of the 120,000 head Karan Beef feedlot tomorrow. We all seem to be doing fine and thinking of everyone back home often.

Post-flight update: We encountered our first minor travel glitch tonight. The motorcoach sent to pick us up broke down on the way to the airport and a replacement had to be dispatched. After about an hour delay we were on our way to the lodge. We will be blessed if that is the worst of our travel problems.

Post-arrival update: We arrived safe at Irene Country Lodge. We were greeted by a chorus of 15 native singers that entertained us as we checked in. Everyone is thrilled with the accommodations.

Posted by Dawn (GSM) and Jason (Reporter).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Manager of Kanonkop Winery describes their wine making

Kayamandi Township

Tueday Jan. 26th - Venturing Outside the City

We started day three of our Journey with fantastic weather as we traveled out of Cape town to the Blackenberg Dairy. This 4th generation dairy is operated by three brothers and our tour was led by Phillip Blackenberg. The operation consisted of milking 700 head of Holstein cows 3 times a day in a 60 stall, rotary parlor. Additionally, they farm 3,000 hectors of wheat, maize (corn), clover, canola, and oats. Along with the dairy, they also run 1,200 merino sheep and 118 head of Aberdeen Angus cows. The modern housing that was built early 2000's, has helped to increase the milk production of the cows. Their biggest struggles continue to be water quality and effective ways to purify it.

We next traveled to the Kanonkop Wine Estate. Along with spectaticular views, this 100 Hector winery is operated by Aubie Beeslaar. They produce 60-70,000-12 bottle cases of red wines a year; with 60% of the wine being exported to 40 different countries. Our visit included a trip through the fermention process followed by a wine tasting in the cellar.

Our travels next took us to the city of Stellenbosch where had lunch followed by a visit to the Kayamandi Township. This experience was very eye-opening as the poverty in this township was overwhelming. Between 35-40% of the persons who live here are unemployed. The education of the young children is challenging as well due to lack of qualified teachers and lack of discipline. Sandile and Monica Elaud shared with us the stories of the township, but also shared there optimism they have for the future of townships like this, as well as South Africa.

We finished our touring for the day by learning about the Malay people. We visited a shop operated by Asine Amhmed where he sells Indian and Malaysian spices.

We enjoyed our time in the Cape Town area and people we have met. Later tomorrow our travels will take us up to Johannesburg for more great experiences.

Here's to day four. Nicolien, Shirley, and Adam

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tour guide Marius Botha (middle, pointing right) tells about the plants, flowers and trees in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
6 minutes to the top.
A naughty baboon
The beginning...... Mon. Jan. 25, 2010.

South Africa Day 1

Greetings from the Cape,

Today we began our adventure by touring key parts of Cape Town in southern South Africa. Our day began with a tour of Table Mountain. This notable landmark for the Cape Town area was enshrouded in clouds from an incoming storm but we still were able to enjoy the view. The method of transportation to the top of the mountain was by a rotating cable car that climbed the 1087 feet to the top in a mere 6 minutes. Once at the top we enjoyed beautiful views of the greater Cape Town area and surrounding landscape. The awesome views inspired us all. "It really impressed upon me how big the world is and how much there is out there that we typically don't try to pursue" said Bryan Prins. No doubt it was amazing!

Following the tour of the mountain we took a driving tour along the southern peninsula, where we saw Bleesbok and several "naughty" Baboons, as Marius our tour guide dubbed them. Along the way we stopped for a leisurely picnic along the coast at Hope Point amongst the crashing surf. After our picinic we proceeded down to the Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern most point in Africa, and saw where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Denny Everson could only say that "it was wild!"

On our way back into Cape Town we stopped at the 580+ hectare (1450 acres) Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to view over 8,000 different species of native South African vegetation. This botanical garden is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of some of South Africa's rarest species as evidenced by the 40+ different species of the Zycot tree, a native palm tree relative that is federally protected. The gardens were absolutely beautiful and meticulously manicured much like McCory Gardens on the SDSU campus.

This evening we were fortunate enough to dine at The Gold Restaurant in downtown Cape Town. We were treated to multiple samples of native South African foods and traditional dances performed by the restaurant staff. "The food and dancing at the Gold was incredible...that is the stuff I wanted to see in Africa." quipped Michelle Olson. It was an amazing experience for sure.

Overall, today was a great start to our adventure, hope to see you all again here tomorrow. Same place, same time.

Until then, from the dark continent....

Respectfully, Eric Mousel, Michelle Olson, and Nathan Meland

Sunday, January 24, 2010

We've arrived in South Africa!!!!!


We have arrived safe and sound in Cape Town at around 10:00 PM local time (2pm CST).  Amazingly, everyone was able claim their luggage and made all 5 plane connections as scheduled - everything went off without a hitch!  The plane ride was long, the food was quite tasty, and we are all ready for a hot shower and a good nights sleep.   

By the way, it is humid and balmy with evening temps in the 70's.

We plan on learning more about Cape Town and its history tomorrow with a visit to Table Mountain and other attractions.

We will post more pictures tomorrow.

Travis, Kip, Doug T.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday, Jan. 23 Day 1

SDARL Class V members have all arrived in Washington DC safely following an ice storm that made us wonder if we would get out of the state at all.

We will be departing for Johannesburg at 5:30 ET and will arrive at our final destination 18 hours later. We will post more as soon as we can.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Follow members of SDARL Class V as they embark on their international study seminar to South Africa. Check back daily for new posts. The class leaves Saturday morning from Sioux Falls and Rapid City before they join forces in Washington, DC, departing there Saturday night, arriving in Capetown about 2:30 CST Sunday.

Rae Jean and I are looking forward to our SDARL travel seminar to South Africa.
Dan Gee