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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

Leah Tutu - from a humble heritage to a matriarch of devotion
2013-10-18

 

Leah Tutu
18 October 2013

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Leah Tutu Symposium: YouTube video

There are treasures in life, but owners are few
Of money and power to buy things brand new
Yet you can be wealthy and feel regal too,
If you will just look for the treasures in you …

The joy and the laughter, the smile that you bring;
The heart unafraid to love and to sing;
The hand always willing to help those in need;
Ones quick to reach out, to labour and feed.

So thank you for sharing these great gifts inside;
The caring, the cheering, the hug when one cried.
Thanks for the energy, encouragement too,
And thank you for sharing the treasures in you. (Author unknown)

With these words, Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe embodied the celebration in honour of her mother, Leah Tutu.

On Thursday 17 October 2013, the Annual Intercontinental Leah Tutu Symposium was launched at the UFS’ Bloemfontein Campus. Dignitaries and students alike flocked to the Centenary Hall where friends and family shared their immense love and respect for Ms Tutu.

Approaching the podium, Eunice Dhadhla (co-founder with Ms Tutu of the Domestic Workers Union) started humming and in an instant the audience had risen to their feet and the words “My mother was a kitchen girl. My father was a garden boy. That’s why I’m a unionist”, reverberated through the hall.

“I am what I am today because of her,” Dhadhla said of Ms Tutu. They have walked a long hard road together to ultimately unite domestic workers across the globe. Stretching her small body to its full length, Dhadhla imparted one of the most valuable lessons she has learned from Ms Tutu, “Stop crawling, stand up and walk for yourself.”

As soon as Dr Sindiwe Magona – acclaimed writer and poet – ascended the stage, her energy rushed across the room with electrifying intensity. Her high regard for Ms Tutu as public icon as well as a mother, wife and friend, was palpable. Belting out line after line of a poem she wrote especially for Ms Tutu, the audience echoed their agreement in a mutual exchange.
No sooner were they seated, than Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prof Jonathan Jansen had the crowd roaring with laughter. Archbishop Tutu’s familiar chuckle peppered his story of how he came to propose to his wife. It was clear, though, how much he reveres Ms Tutu’s presence in his life. With enormous awe, he revealed her innate power, specifically during difficult times in our country’s past – from weathering death threats against her husband to public humiliation.

But despite adversity and heartache, in front of the Centenary Hall, this matriarch stood up and beamed joy into everyone present.

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