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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

UFS to monitor the use of ARV-drugs on pregnant women and children
2004-12-08

The University of the Free State (UFS) is to establish a Pharmacovigilance Centre that will monitor the effects of Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs on HIV positive pregnant women and children starting early in the new year.

The UFS is one of only two institutions chosen by the Minister of Health, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, to establish such an ARV monitoring centre.

The other centre will be based at Medical University of South Africa (MEDUNSA) and will concentrate mainly on monitoring the effects of the drugs on adults.

“The establishment of the UFS’s Pharmaconvigilance Centre forms part of government’s Comprehensive Plan on HIV and AIDS, often termed the roll-out plan for ARV drugs. The centre’s primary responsibility will be to specifically monitor the use of these drugs in pregnant women, and children under the age of 13,” said Prof Andrew Walubo of the UFS’s Department of Pharmacology.

“Although most of the side effects of ARV drugs have been identified in other countries, it has now become critical to identify the side effects amongst the South African population. This is important because many people will be exposed to the drugs within a short time. Our aim is so identify the most common side effects and make recommendations for the prevention thereof. The centre will help in detecting the risk of using anti-retroviral drugs in pregnancy and children, and prevention of adverse drug reactions,” said Prof Walubo.

According to Prof Walubo 12 drugs will be monitored – these drugs will be selected according to the patient’s profile.

The centre will comprise of two components: A pregnancy registry, which will focus on a new-born child up until two months and a pediatric registry, which will focus on children who are born of mothers who used ARV drugs and children using ARV drugs.

According to Prof Walubo, the Pharmaconvigilance Centre will also be responsible for offering relevant technical advice, training and selected research on ARV drugs in these patients.

The centre will be fully sponsored by the national Department of Health. It will be based in the UFS’s Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Pharmacology, and will be run in collaboration with experts from different departments in the faculty.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
8 December 2004

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