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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

Q and A with Prof Hussein Solomon on ‘Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Africa’
2015-05-29

 

Political Science lecturer, Prof Hussein Solomon, has launched his latest book, Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Africa: fighting insurgency from Al Shabaab, Ansar Dine and Boko Haram, on Wednesday 26 May 2015 at the UFS.

In his book, Solomon talks about the growing terrorist threat in Africa, with the likes of Al Shabaab, Ansar Dine, and Boko Haram exploiting Africa's vulnerabilities to expand their operations. Explaining both the limitations of current counter-terrorist strategies and possible future improvements, this timely study can be appreciated by scholars and practitioners alike.

Q: If you speak of Al Shabaab, Ansar Dine, and Boko Haram expanding operations, do you see possibilities for their expansion even into South Africa, or is expansion mainly focused on northern African countries?
 
A: All three movements are operating out of their respective countries. Al Shabaab has attacked Kenya and Uganda and tried to attack the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa. So yes, there is a danger that they are here and, more importantly, newer groups like ISIS are recruiting in SA already.
 
Q: If the traditional military response is ineffective, what would be a better approach then?

 
A:
What is important is that the force of arms needs to complement the force of ideas. What is being waged is an ideological battle, and, just as the West defeated Communism ideologically in the Cold War, we need to defeat radical Islamism ideologically. In addition, the military response needs to complement the governance and development responses.
 
Q: External players like the US have insufficient knowledge of the context, what would be the knowledge about context necessary for anyone concerned about the terror problem in Africa?
 
A: Allow me to give you some examples. The US trains African militaries to fight terrorist groups, but, when they return to their countries, they stage a coup and topple the civilian government. The US does not seem to understand that arming a predatory military and training them makes them more predatory and brutal, which results in civilians being recruited by terrorists, as happened in Mali. Similarly, the US sent arms to the Somali government, and members of that government sold those arms to Al Shabaab terrorists, the very people they were supposed to fight. So the Americans do not understand the criminalisation of the African state, which undermines good governance and promotes terrorism.

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