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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

Dr Mercy Oduyoye receives an honorary doctorate for changing how women are viewed in theology
2015-07-08

Dr Mercy Oduyoye.
Photo: Johan Roux

Dr Mercy Amba Oduyoye received an honorary degree from the UFS Faculty of Theology in acknowledgement of the trailblazing work she has done in the field of African women’s theology. Known as the Mother of African Women’s Theology, Dr Oduyoye is the first black woman in Africa to have received a degree in theology. Ever since then, she has been changing views on gender in theology across the globe. Still at the office at the age of 82, Dr Oduyoye’s life work has centred on two areas: her work with churches, and her work with female theologians.

Women in religion and culture
Following the 2015 Winter Graduation Ceremony on the Bloemfontein Campus, during which Dr Oduyoye received her honorary degree from the University of the Free State (UFS), she presented a lecture on women in religion and culture at the Faculty of Theology. Dr Oduyoye gave a brief overview of her involvement in organisations since the early 1970s to eliminate patriarchal structures in theology, in order to produce a relationship of partnership between women and men. An area that lies especially close to Dr Oduyoye’s heart is that of storytelling, and the use of language. Therefore, a driving force behind her work has been the question: “How do we communicate what we believe as Christians?”

Writing in a way people can understand

This question led Dr Oduyoye on her journey to vernacularise theological language, and it became her mode of writing. “Very seldom will you find the classical or official theological language in my writing, because I’m writing as if I’m speaking to a youth group, a women’s group – or even my grandmother.” In this way, communication became her focal point to present Christianity in such a way that people can understand it, thus rendering it relevant to the situation in Africa.

Changes toward inclusive language
Dr Oduyoye has gone on to author four books and over eighty articles on theology from a feminist perspective. And after toiling for many years, Dr Oduyoye can now see the changes emerging – especially in the US – as Bibles, lectionaries, and hymns are increasingly adopting an inclusive language, giving women a presence and voice within the church.

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