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While the rest of the world has battened down the hatches, South Africa seems to be immune, as Alan Swaby learns when talking to one of the leading businesses Kaap Agri Operations and though shares are not listed, they can nevertheless be bought and sold freely to anyone who wants them. Essentially, Kaap Agri is a distributor and retailer of just about anything that someone involved with agriculture would need. Its 70 branches- Agrimark stores, as they are now called- are giant general stores selling food, clothes, medicines and building products as well as agro- chemicals and animal feeds. Behind the shop front are equally large warehouses for bulk and bagged produce. The single largest selling item is diesel fuel. But there are other strings to the bow. Kaap Agri has a 32 percent stake in Pioneer- a Heinz or General Foods- style multi- brand food manufacturer. Agriplas is a manufacturer of specialized irrigation equipment such as plastic drip lines June 09 www. bus- ex. com 45 Ahiveof activity C orwyn Botha is an unofficial but enthusiastic PR consultant for South Africa, never losing an opportunity to suggest that whomever he is talking to not only visits the country but better still, moves there permanently. But as the CEO of a company that is doubling its size and profitability every three years, it's hardly surprising that he is feeling bullish as well as proud about the country he so obviously loves. It's unlikely that there are too many operations similar in style and scope to Kaap Agri Operations. Its origins go back almost 100 years, when it was set up as a farmers' cooperative in the West Cape area, when membership was restricted to the farming community. These days it's a limited company,