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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

University publishes its Integrated Report
2013-08-23

23 August 2013

The university is proud to have published an integrated report in line with the King III requirements on corporate governance. The university is one of the first universities – if not the first – in South Africa to do so. The UFS sees integrated reporting as a public process through which we report to all our stakeholders, using evidence-based data, on the achievements and challenges of a public university.

Our first Integrated Report reviews the overall performance, non-financial and financial, of the UFS for the 2012 academic year. It is the first report of its kind delivered to stakeholders and guided by the King III framework which recommends integrated, sustainable performance that is reported in a way that enables stakeholders to make an informed assessment of an institution.

The Integrated Report notes that the conditions under which higher education institutions operate have become more demanding in the last two decades and there is a growing need for universities to be more explicit and transparent about the manner in which their core functions (teaching, research and public duty), as well as its administrative operations, are defined by and support good governance, sustainability and corporate citizenship.

The university welcomes this opportunity to present in public an integrated account of itself. In particular, the UFS sees this report as an opportunity to align more strongly its financial and non-financial reporting in pursuit of organisational sustainability and social transformation in South Africa.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, notes in the report that in the past four years the university has made significant progress in respect of its two foundational commitments, the Academic Project and the Human Project.

There are now more students entering the university who satisfy the higher requirements set for admission. “This will improve the throughput and graduation rates of incoming students, ensuring their personal success and satisfaction with higher education.” The establishment of a state-of-the-art Postgraduate School, for example, is expected to increase the number, quality and success rates of postgraduate students.

The research output has increased steadily and the contribution of the new Senior Professors project, as well as the five research clusters, have helped to improve the quality of research and the spread of postgraduate recruitment beyond South Africa.

On transformation, the Vice-Chancellor observes that “We have made significant progress in building inclusive, democratic and embracing campus cultures which affirm the value and dignity of all students and staff. With the steady increase of black students in a majority black campus, our goal remains to retain our diversity in a university that serves as an experiment in teaching students to live and learn and love together.”

Financial sustainability is a major commitment and the UFS has not only maintained its record of unqualified audits, but has steadily built a culture of risk management and performance evaluation throughout the system. Internal auditing is a strong instrument in our arsenal to secure financial and operational compliance in every department of the university.

“What integrates the systems and functions of the university is the alignment of everything we do with our two pillars, the Academic and Human Projects, built on a solid foundation of professional support services as described in the Strategic Plan adopted in 2012. In the process of preparing the Integrated Report we discovered how much still needs to be done to align the still disparate and independent activities of the three campuses, seven faculties and more than 100 departments of this large university,” according to the Vice-Chancellor.

The report is available at: http://www.ufs.ac.za/content.aspx?id=184.

 

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