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17 May 2019 | Story Eloise Calitz | Photo Charl Devenish
Agribusiness Transformation Programme
At the launch of the programme during Nampo 2019 were, from the leftt: Anton Nicolaisen, Provincial Head: Free State and Northern Cape, Standard Bank; Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS; Mangi Ramabenyane, General Manager, Farmer Support and Development at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; Nico Groenewald, Head: Agri-Business at Standard Bank; and Bigboy Kokoma, farmer from Bothaville.


Bigboy Kokoma, a 33-year-old ‘young’ farmer, speaks with confidence and pride about his family farm in the Bothaville district. One hundred and forty-two hectares of land that has been in the Kokoma family since 2005 when his father established the farm. The farm specialises in livestock, mostly Bonsmaras, and vegetables. “I want to set an example to other young farmers and, through this, become an ambassador of inspiration to my generation.”

Bigboy has a Diploma in Financial Management. “Having this qualification is a step closer to understanding the financial management of the farm, but if you want to take the leap to become a commercial farmer, you need greater knowledge and understanding to get you there.”  He is excited to have been selected for the Agribusiness Transformation Programme, because this will bring him closer to his dream of becoming a commercial farmer, to contribute to the economy of South Africa, and it will assist him in taking his family legacy further.

He is one of 25 farmers in the country who was selected to take part in the Agribusiness Transformation Programme. The programme’s main objective is to develop black emerging farmers through structured, accessible, and relevant agricultural and entrepreneurship training in order to become economically viable commercial farmers that will have greater impact in the agricultural sector in the Free State.

Importance of agriculture

Globally, the agricultural sector faces multiple challenges: it has to produce food to feed an exponentially growing world population, with a smaller rural labour force, adopt more energy-efficient and sustainable production methods, manage limited natural resources and climate change, and contribute to socio-economic development. 
 
Agriculture is of fundamental importance, not only on a global scale, but also on the African continent; therefore, we are especially proud of the Agribusiness Transformation Programme that will, in the long run, enable 25 farmers to become productive and well-functioning agri-business contributors that provide solutions for the much-needed challenges in food security, job creation, and the development of agricultural products.
 
Value of strong partnerships

The programme is an initiative of the University of the Free State (UFS), Standard Bank, and the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. They believe that strong partnerships are needed in the development of black emerging farmers, and to drive change in the sector. What makes the partnership successful, is the multiple strengths and expertise that each partner provides.

The UFS has a strong Agricultural Sciences division, with experience in training farmers in formal undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, as well as short courses.  The UFS Centre for Development Support has a solid record of developing entrepreneurs and university’s Innovation Office is at the forefront of technology transfer.

“The UFS is applying its strengths in education, training, innovation and technology transfer to ensure the development of these 25 farmers. We are excited to take the lead in this program and to ultimately contribute to a productive and well-functioning agri-business sector in South Africa. The impact of the programme is wide and the future brings possibilities of developing a model that will be replicated in the rest of South Africa and Africa,” says Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS.

Standard Bank has strong expertise in financing the agricultural sector, stimulating enterprise development and SMMEs, and providing financial services to the public sector.  The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development provides services to farmers who have access to land.

Programme launched at Nampo 2019

The programme was fittingly launched at Nampo on 15 May 2019, bringing together leaders in agriculture, business, the media, and influencers in the sector to engage and meet with the 25 farmers. The discussion at the launch again reiterated the importance of this programme and the level of skills transfer this partnership will mobilise.



News Archive

#Women’sMonth: Men should help change narrative on violence against women – Prof Solomon
2017-08-23

 Description: Issues affecting women Tags: Prof Hussein Solomon, Department of Political Studies, violence against women, Gender and Sexual Equity Office, Women’s Month, Embrace a Sister, Boko Haram 

The panellists at a discussion on Issues
Affecting Women
at the UFS Sasol library were
Zane Thela, Head of the Gender and Sexual
Equity Office Programme, Pumla Mgobhozi, founding
member of Embrace a Sister, and
Prof Prof Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor in the
Department of Political Studies.
From the left, are: Thela, Mgobhozi, Prof Solomon,
and Betsy Eister, Director: Library and
Information Services.
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

The fight to eradicate violence against women is one which men should be involved in. According to Prof Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor in the Department of Political Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS), men have to help change the narrative of physical abuse and sexual violence which they perpetrate against women and children.
“Let them (men who might be offended by the #men are trash) reject violent masculinities, and in the process let them redefine what being a man is about. Let fathers teach their sons that no means no.”

Panel discussion on Issues Affecting Women
Prof Solomon was part of a panel discussion on Issues Affecting Women, organised by the UFS library, in collaboration with the Gender and Sexual Equity Office and Embrace a Sister, as part of Women’s Month in the UFS Sasol library on 3 August 2017.
The other panellists were Zane Thela, Head of the Gender and Sexual Equity Office Programme at the UFS, and Pumla Mgobhozi, founding member of Embrace a Sister. Prof Solomon’s book Understanding Boko Haram, focusing on the kidnapping of 200 young women in Nigeria was also launched.

Don’t accept things as they are
Prof Solomon says that responses by the SA government have no credibility and a lot more could be done. “What is clear is that outrage alone will not end this violence.”
Even at SA universities there are many examples of how women are mistreated. “We need to ask: What more can we do as a university to assist these (female) students.”

According to Thela, it is sad that these issues are only talked about seasonally (like during Women’s Month).
Thela says people should raise their children differently in order to change the narrative. “Then men won’t think they have to prove themselves to women.”
And we shouldn’t accept things as they are: “The most dangerous statement in society is to say: ‘It has always been done this way."

Role of women in their fate
Mgobhozi emphasised that women have a hand in the way they are being seen and treated in society. She therefore asked: “What is the role of women in making sure that we dismantle patriarchy”.
According to her women, especially black women, should dismantle the status quo. She added that cultures and parents often influence the way women are seen.
“Women should fight these social problems together,” Mgobhozi says.

 

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