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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 awards honorary doctorate to global peace ambassador Dr Lakhdar Brahimi
2015-07-07

Professor Heidi Hudson, Director of the Centre for Africa Studies at the UFS and Dr Lakhdar Brahimi.
Photo: Mike Rose from Mike Rose Photography

The Faculty of the Humanities and Centre for Africa Studies rewarded the contributions of Dr Lakhdar Brahimi, a prominent global peace leader, with an honorary doctorate on Thursday 2 July 2015.

The conferment formed one of the highlights of the 2015 Winter Graduations. Dr Brahimi’s work as a United Nations’ (UN) envoy, and African peace leader of note, was deeply respected by the university. Professor Heidi Hudson, Director of the Centre for Africa Studies at the UFS, accepted the PhD on his behalf.

In his acceptance speech, read by Prof Hudson at the Chancellor’s Dinner the same evening, Dr Brahimi expressed his gratitude to the university. “I deeply appreciate your generous recognition, and even now, in the twilight years of my life, I shall try to be worthy of your confidence in everything I say or do.”

“My generation did its share: its successes and its failures are things of the past. We must accept to be judged by you, the graduates. You, the young graduates here at the University of the Free State, and your fellow members of the African intellectual elite, have an exciting opportunity to take on the challenges and fulfil the dreams you have. We must accept to be judged by you.”

Algerian-born Dr Brahimi was first involved with the UN in 1992 as rapporteur to the Earth Summit. Distinctively, he is the most-frequently appointed special envoy of the UN. Amongst many other countries, he has worked as a mediator for South Africa, Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Burundi, Angola, Liberia, Nigeria, Sudan, and Côte d’Ivoire on behalf of the UN.

Significant peacekeeping efforts in South Africa (1993- 1994)

The ambassador– in his capacity as special representative to South Africa from December 1993 to June 1994 –played a direct role in South Africa’s democratic transition.

Prof Hudson expressed appreciation for the ambassador’s role in facilitating a peaceful transition from South Africa’s Nationalist government into the current democratic dispensation.

“One of the reasons we selected him as recipient of the honorary doctorate, is because of what he did for the African continent,” she said.

In addition, she commented Dr Brahimi for being a living testament of Ubuntu. “He has displayed an ethic of humanism in everything that he has done, in the way that he has mediated in certain conflicts - his main contribution is as a mediator.

According to Hudson, his humility, modesty, and generosity are the epitome of Ubuntu which states that “I am because we are.”

Dr Brahimi as a global peace practitioner

Dr Brahimi served as Undersecretary-General of the Arab League, Arab League Special Envoy for Lebanon, and Foreign Minister of Algeria.

The UN Peace-building Commission was established as a result of recommendations in his2000 Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (Brahimi Report).

Since 2007, Dr Brahimi has been a member in The Elders - an alliance chaired by Kofi Annan -of peace and human rights advocates including Desmond Tutu, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson, and Jimmy Carter. His passion for justice led to his membership in the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor.

In 2010, he was Laureate of the Special Jury Prize for Conflict Prevention, awarded by the Chirac Foundation (France), which promotes international peace and security.

Dr Brahimi’s influence in Peace Education

The Brahimi Report has had an indelible impact on scholars specialising in the broad field of peace operations. Dr Brahimi’s writings have also contributed to knowledge on post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD), a signification part of the African Union’s narrative.

He is a distinguished senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics. He has taught a postgraduate course on Conflict Resolution at Sciences Po, Paris (2011); is Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University; and is affiliated to the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, where he was a visiting professor from 2006 to 2008.

In addition, Dr Brahimi is a founding member of the French-language Journal of Palestine Studies, and a board member of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.


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