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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

Change and growth at the University of the Free State
2011-07-04

 

Graphical representation of the High Performance Centre

“Come gather round people, wherever you roam. And admit that the waters around you have grown…”

These are the opening lines of Bob Dylan’s iconic single The times they are-a changing. They are also extremely apt words to describe the excitement about the winds of change and growth blowing across the University of the Free State, not only academically, but also physically.

Over the past few months there has been non-stop construction and growth of a physical nature, with several new buildings being erected and new sculptures rising up all over the Bloemfontein Campus.

The most visible and probably the most striking of all the new structures is the brand-new main entrance to the campus. This stunning new feature welcomes visitors to the campus in Nelson Mandela Drive, in the colours of each of the university’s seven faculties.

Once through this beautiful new gate, visitors have a choice of new and exciting features to explore on the campus.

The first is the brand new climbing wall, which is located against the West Block and Chemistry Buildings. This new addition to the campus is available for use by all enthusiasts of this exciting sport.

The Office of the Dean of Student Affairs manages the administration of the wall and students who want to climb can book at their office in the Student Centre at the Thakaneng Bridge. In order to ensure that students do not use the wall without permission, and to prevent accidents, the wall is covered by a tarpaulin, which is locked when the wall is not in use.

Next on the list of new developments is the high-performance gymnasium which is currently still under construction. With this project the university wants to create a work environment for its staff that will not only contribute to the cultivation of maximum work performance, but also to staff wellness.

The centre with its foyer and administrative offices will also consist of a health desk, university sports institute, sports sales, a spinning and aerobic centre, and dressing rooms. The total area will extend more than 2114 m².

Progress on other building projects, which commenced last year, is also very pleasing. One of the projects is a new Education Building which is being constructed opposite the UFS Sasol Library. Upon completion, this building will be used for the training of maths and science teachers in the Foundation Phase. It will include three classrooms for 100 students each and an auditorium for 225 students as well as an office block. The auditorium will also be used as a classroom. The building has been designed according to environmentally friendly principles to save water and use power effectively. Construction is going swimmingly and should be completed soon.

Planning for the construction of more student accommodation on the Bloemfontein Campus as well as the Qwaqwa Campus is also well underway. On the Qwaqwa Campus, a residence with 200 beds is being constructed. This also includes a computer laboratory. According to the planning, this residence is near completion. Furthermore, four residences will be constructed on the Bloemfontein Campus. These residences are in the planning phase.

In order to place technology within reach of Kovsie students and thereby empowering them, computer laboratories were installed at all residences. The computer laboratories will eventually make provision for approximately185 computers for student use. Proper security is also planned to safeguard the equipment.
A brand-new building for the Faculty of Health Sciences is also proceeding rapidly. This building will include a lecture hall for 200 students, five venues for 100 students each, as well as offices. Students from the School for Medicine and Occupational Therapy will make use of these facilities.

The new building for the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences between the Flippie Groenewoud Building and the Wynand Mouton Theatre is also coming along nicely.

On the university’s Qwaqwa Campus a new Education building is being constructed. This building will include a lecturing hall with 100 seats, four 50-seat classrooms, six offices, ablution facilities, biology and science laboratory, as well as an information technology laboratory for 60 students.

In the meantime, existing buildings are being renovated on all the campuses. This includes, amongst others, improvements to the Architecture Building, the Biotechnology Building and the quarters for service workers on the Bloemfontein Campus. Other improvements that have already been completed include renovations to the Odeion’s foyer and the Callie Human Centre.

A special memorial park for women, residential accommodation within a sports environment, and a botanical garden are also among the beautiful, exciting new sites to be seen on the campus.

Coupled with all the beautiful sculptures, funded by the Lotto Sculpture project, our university’s campuses will soon be a more vibrant, beautiful attraction.
 

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