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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

SRC elections of our Bloemfontein Campus
2011-07-26

The Student Council elections of our university at the Bloemfontein Campus will take place on 29 and 30 August 2011. These official election dates were announced by Mr Rudi Buys, Dean: Student Affairs, on 25 July 2011.

Nominations open on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 and the elections, which are constituted according to the SRC Constitution, shall be handled by the Independent Electoral Agency, which shall be instituted by the SRC Constitution with this in view.
 
“The elections introduce a new era in student leadership and governance, because student representation will now constituted in such a way that affords the majority of students the opportunity to vote directly for their representatives. Senior leadership structures are extended in the new Constitution, in order to allow more students to hold senior positions,” states Mr Buys.
 
The SRC elections follow on the approval of a new Constitution that was accepted by our Council on 3 June 2011.
 
The Constitution was drafted over a period of eight months by the Broad Student Transformation Forum (BSTF), consisting of students, in order to design a new dispensation in student structures. The BSTF, which decided on new models of student representation in collaboration with independent facilitators, consists of more than 70 student organisations and residences. The changes to the Constitution were decided on and accepted by the BSTF, after recommendations from four student study groups, which investigated student leadership and governance in depth, at national as well as international level, were taken into account. The study groups visited nine (9) other SA universities, as well as investigated student representation at internationally renowned universities like Cornell, Yale and Stanford in the United States of America.
 
Ms Modieyi Motholo, Chairperson of the Interim Student Committee, says that she is very proud of what the students have achieved with the new Constitution. “I wish to accord recognition to all the students who lead the process for all their hard work. Constitutional revision is a strenuous process and it is nothing short of a miracle that the students could not only reconstruct the Constitution, but also have it accepted in less than a year.”
 
The important changes include, amongst others:

  • Candidates no longer stand on behalf of parties in the elections, but as independent candidates for 10 predetermined portfolios for which students can vote directly;
  • Students also directly vote for a President and a Vice-President;
  • Nine (9) SRC members serve ex-officio as SRC members by virtue of being chairpersons of nine additional student councils established by the Constitution. Amongst others, the councils include a postgraduate student council, an international student council, a student media council and a student academic affairs council;
  • More stringent eligibility requirements are set for candidates, namely that students who wish to run in the elections has to, amongst others, sustain an academic average of more than 60%, and hold proven student leadership experience (which could be verified by the Independent Electoral Agency).

 
“With the SRC elections, students have the opportunity to firmly entrench the changes in student governance on which they have decided on by  themselves firmly, as a sustainable model for democracy at our Bloemfontein Campus. It speaks volumes that the number of leadership positions for which candidates can make themselves available, in essence has been increased by the number of additional student sub-councils from 21 to 67, because it brings about much more direct representation for different students across the campus,” says Mr Buys.
 
“I firmly believe that the upcoming student council elections will be a success,” says Motholo. “I wish the students, who are prepared to sacrifice a year of their lives in service of the student community as a member of the SRC, all of the best.”
 
The Qwaqwa Campus’ election schedule shall be announced within the next week, as well as the date of the institution of the Central Student Council (CSC).

Media Release
26 July 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za
 
 

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