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03 April 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Vhugala Nthakheni
Uhuru Qwaqwa Arrival
The #UFSWalkToUhuru team arrives at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus on Friday 22 March.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Division of Student Affairs, in collaboration with the UFS Office for International Affairs, have joined hands to drive a fundraising and student-accessibility initiative dubbed, ‘The Walk to Uhuru’ (#UFSWalktoUhuru), which is aimed at raising funds and advocating for the educational rights of the less privileged. 

The project aims to raise funds in excess of R2 million from the public and stakeholders affiliated with the UFS (Kovsie staff and students). The project derives from the 2018/2019 UFS Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) mandate ‘Students Must Graduate’. The ISRC mandate aims to source funding opportunities for UFS students to register, and to complete their studies across all three campuses in 2020 and beyond.

The first leg of the project, a 350 km walk from the Bloemfontein to the Qwaqwa Campus, has already taken place and concluded on Friday, 22 March 2019 as planned. The #UFSWalkToUhuru team successfully completed the first leg of their journey to academic freedom for financially disadvantaged students at the UFS. The Uhuru team is now focusing its attention on the second leg and is determined to take on Mount Kilimanjaro (Uhuru) from 20 June to 20 July 2019.

The team sat down for a debriefing session to unpack the overall experience and result of the first half of the initiative, and they all agreed that the walk to Qwaqwa was an enlightening experience. It was a walk that comprised learning opportunities, team building, and goal crushing.

According to Rethabile Motseki, member of the #UFSWalkToUhuru team, the walk to Qwaqwa made a significant impact on the project, as the university community is now aware of the significant goals that the team is trying to accomplish. The team has also resumed their fitness-training programme to ensure that they are ready to take on the Uhuru climb in June.

A media briefing will take place shortly (date to be confirmed) to detail the ongoing fundraising initiatives rolled out by the #UFSWalkToUhuru team.  We implore you, and the nation as a whole, to help establish a better future for disadvantaged UFS students by donating to the initiative.

Students, staff, and the public can support the cause and make contributions/donations to the initiative by visiting the UFS Walk to Uhuru #givengain account page.

For more information, contact UFS SRC President, Sonwabile Dwaba, on DwabaSJ@ufs.ac.za  or Rethabile Motseki on MotsekiR@ufs.ac.za  

News Archive

Agriculture must adapt to change
2008-11-28

 

At the launch of "50 years of agriculture" at the UFS were, from the left: Mr Corwyn Botha: Chairman: Agri Business Chamber and Managing Director: Cape Agri Group, Mr Motsepe Matlala, President of NAFU, Mr Hans van der Merwe, Executive Head: Agri SA, Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk: Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS, and Mr Sugar Ramakarane, Head: Department of Agriculture, Free State Province.
Photo: Lacea Loader

 “The biggest factor driving agriculture today is change. Our major challenge is to adapt to this changing environment.” This was stated by Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) during the recent celebration of the faculty’s “50 years in agriculture”.

Prof. Van Schalkwyk stated that the most important changes include power relationships in supply chains, consumer demand, new products and technology in agriculture, government action and developments in neighbouring states. “At the moment there is very little cooperation between small-scale farmers, small-scale farmers and commercial farmers and farmers and processors. There are also low levels of processing, low levels of value adding and a lack of creative thinking in agriculture," he said.

“This must change – we need comprehensive agricultural support and new business ideas in agriculture. We need better infrastructure, value chain financing and improved institutional support,” he said.

Speaking about agriculture and institutional co-operation in the Free State, Mr Sugar Ramakarane, Chief Director of the Free State Department of Agriculture, said that the UFS plays a vital role in bringing together organised agriculture in the province. “The responsibility of transforming our economy cannot be done by government alone. We need partners like the UFS to assist us with bringing together the two most important stakeholders of the agricultural sector, namely the National Farmers’ Union (NAFU) and Free State Agriculture. You can assist us with harnessing co-operation and providing practical solutions," he said

Mr Ramakarane said that his department is aware of the university’s good work with emerging farmers. “But, I want to encourage the university to help us with skills transfer and the development of the emerging farmers. You can play a vital role in developing a mentorship programme. Yours remains a central and critical role of being torch bearers in guiding the transformation agenda of our country," he said.

In his contribution on the challenges of small scale farmers in South Africa and the role of the university, Mr Motsepe Matlala, President of NAFU, said that unity in organised agriculture and working together with other stakeholders has become even more crucial with regard to the global challenges now faced by the country. “The university should take the lead in guiding all farmers on how to respond to, among others, the global financial turmoil and politics, developments in trade negotiations, food prices, input costs and the availability of energy," he said.

“If the UFS, and more specifically the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, is to continue to play a leading role in academia as well as in the production of research that matters to the growth and development of this country, it must adopt an approach that seeks to harness the capacity of everyone in an inclusive manner. The strides already made in this regard must be applauded,” Mr Matlala said.

Speaking on the future challenges in agriculture and the role of universities, Mr Hans van der Merwe, Executive Head of Agri SA said that South Africa has not spent money on agricultural development in a long time. “We must increase our product capacity in the agricultural sector. Universities must focus on cultivating enough expertise and the skills necessary to manage the resources and capacity needed," he said. In his view, South Africa must also focus on technological advancement in agriculture as this has also been neglected in the past. He urged universities to provide best-practice education and to look at international trends in agricultural training. “That is why we should not only focus our attention on South Africa, but on southern Africa,” Mr van der Merwe said.

In conclusion to the day’s programme, Mr Corwyn Botha, Chairperson of the Agricultural Business Chamber, Managing Director of the Cape Agri Group and former Kovsie stated that: “If you want to be an example of leadership, people around you must do better because you are there. A university should evaluate itself in this context. You cannot create solutions to problems with the same attitude in which the problems were created."

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
28 November 2008
 

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