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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

UFS Communication and Brand Management receives two prestigious international awards
2015-07-07

Lelanie de Wet, Lacea Loader and Leonie Bolleurs

The Department of Communication and Brand Management at the University of the Free State (UFS) received two of the six Gold Quill Awards – that were awarded to South African companies and institutions - at the International Association of Business Communicator’s (IABC) Excellence Gala ceremony in San Francisco, US on 15 June 2015.

The awards ceremony formed part of the 2015 IABC World Conference, which took place from 14-17 June 2015. The department received a Gold Quill Excellence Award for its social media campaign, UFS #FaceOfFacebook and a Gold Quill Merit Award for the B Safe Take Action campaign.

From the 15 countries that entered, a total of 120 Gold Quill Excellence awards and 189 Gold Quill Merit awards were awarded. Other South African award winners included Barclays Africa Group Limited, Mediclinic and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

This is the second year in a row that the UFS has been recognised by the IABC for its communication projects. In 2014, the department was awarded the Jake Wittmer Research Award for a Stakeholder Perception Audit conducted in February 2014. The audit was considered – by the IABC - as one of the best breakthrough strategies used by a university to measure the perceptions of its stakeholders.This made the UFS the first tertiary institution in Africa to receive the research award. The stakeholder perception audit also received an Africa Gold Quill in 2014.

"Being recognised by a global association such as the IABC for the second time, is a great honour and I am very proud of what my colleagues have achieved by entering the two campaigns. Winning the awards is a true indication of what can be done when a team of expert communicators is committed towards engaging their target audiences with campaigns that speak of quality and innovation. The fact that the UFS is one of only two tertiary education institutions in the country to receive these prestigious awards, makes it even more special," said Lacea Loader, Director: Communication and Brand Management at the UFS.

IABC World and Africa conferences 2015 

The IABC is a global membership association with a network of 12 000 members in more than 80 countries, representing many of the Global Fortune 500 companies. It serves professionals in the field of business communication, bringing together the profession’s collective disciplines.

With the theme: Changing landscape: Informing the future, the 2015 world conference was attended by over 1 200 delegates from across the world. Delegates were offered an opportunity for learning, discovering, and connecting. Loader also made a presentation entitled ‘Award-winning measurement endorses sound reputation management strategy’ at the world conference.

The department will also be receiving two Africa Gold Quill Awards from the Africa chapter of the IABC for the same campaigns on 30 July 2015 in Johannesburg.

UFS #FaceOfFacebook Campaign

The university received a Gold Quill Excellence Award for its social media campaign, UFS #FaceOfFacebook. This initiative originated in the university’s commitment to its Human Project, which sets the standard for good behaviour and care.

Lelanie de Wet, Manager: Social Media and Website Content and project leader of UFS #FaceOfFacebook, said the project was born from the need to communicate with students. Thus a virtual friend, #FaceOfFacebook, was created. “Yearly auditions are being held to choose the new face representing the UFS on Facebook. Short video clips of the #FaceOfFacebook – whether it is attending events or communicating important messages - are posted on the UFS Facebook page. The successful candidate holds the title #FaceOfFacebook for 12 months.

“When I look at a campaign such as #FaceOfFacebook, from the time it took its first tentative steps in 2013, and see how it inspired staff and students alike, my heart swells with pride. Often you can see the impact you have made only in retrospect. The ripples you send into the world will inevitably create waves,” she said.

B Safe Take Action Campaign

The B Safe Take Action campaign of the university received a Gold Quill Merit award from the IABC.

The campaign was activated in September 2013. “It targeted on- and off-campus students and staff, aiming to create social ownership of personal safety, and to raise awareness of the safety measures put in place by the university,” said Leonie Bolleurs, Manager: Internal Communication and project manager of the campaign.

The campaign looked at a number of safety aspects, focusing not only on crime but also on being safe from road accidents and stress/burnout.

It is the second time this year that the BSafe campaign has been recognised for its innovative strategy. Earlier this year it received a PRISM Award (Gold) from the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA). The annual PRISM Awards are about recognising and celebrating great public relations campaigns.

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