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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

Leader of Bafokeng nation delivers a guest lecture at UFS
2011-05-05

 
Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi, leader of the Royal Bafokeng, Proff. Teuns Verschoor, Vice-Rector: Institutional Affairs, Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of our university, and Hendri Kroukamp, Dean of our Faculty Economic and Management Sciences (acting).
Photo: Stephen Collett

Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi, leader of the Royal Bafokeng nation, asked the pertinent questions: Who decides our fate as South Africans? Who owns our future? in the JN Boshoff Memorial Lecture at our university.

He said: “It’s striking that today, with all the additional freedoms and protections available to us, we have lost much of the pioneering spirit of our ancestors. In this era of democracy and capitalist growth (systems based on choice, accountability, and competition), we nevertheless invest government with extraordinary responsibility for our welfare, livelihoods, and even our happiness. We seem to feel that government should not only reconcile and regulate us, but also house us, school us, heal us, employ us, even feed us.

“And what government can’t do, the private sector will. Create more jobs, invest in social development and the environment, bring technical innovations to our society, make us part of the global village. But in forfeiting so much authority over our lives and our society to the public and private sectors, I believe we have given away something essential to our progress as people and a nation: the fundamental responsibility we bear for shaping our future according to aims, objectives, and standards determined by us.”

He shared the turnaround of the education system in the 45 schools in the 23 communities of the Bafokeng nation and the effect of greater community, NGOs, the church and other concerned parties’ engagement in the curricula and activities with the audience. School attendance improved from 80% to 90% in two years and the top learners in the matric maths in Northwest were from the Bafokeng nation. 

Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi stressed the need for people to help to make South Africa a better place: “As a country, we speak often of the need for leadership, the loss of principles, a decline in values. But too few of us are willing to accept the risk, the expense, the liability, and sometimes even the blame, that accompanies attempting to make things better. We are trying to address pressing issues we face as a community, in partnership with government, and with the tools and resources available to us as a traditionally governed community. It goes without saying that we can and should play a role in deciding our fate as members of this great country, and in the Royal Bafokeng Nation, as small as it is, we are determined to own our own future.”

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