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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 adopts advanced institutional approach to disability, launches CUADS
2015-07-14

Lize Botha, Louzanne Coetzee and her guide-dog Oakley, and David Nkwenkwezi.

Photo: Eye Poetry Photograpy

The approach to support for students with disabilities at South African universities has remained largely one-dimensional, focusing on the support and accommodation of individual students. Implementing the Universal Access (UA) and Universal Design (UD) approach has aligned the University of the Free State (UFS) with international standards. Such an approach addresses challenges arising as a result of the interaction between functional limitations and the social, attitudinal and physical environment of students with disabilities. The Unit for Students with Disabilities (USD) has evolved into the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) in support of the social model of disability. 

Hetsie Veitch, Head of CUADS and her team, have dedicated the past four years to the center’s physical revamping and systematic reconstruction to be officially launched in an Open Day event on the Bloemfontein Campus.


Details of the event:

Date: Friday 24 July 2015
Time:10:00-16:00
Venue: CUADS and Sasol Library foyer
Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Exploring the dimensions of UA and UD


UA and UD facilitate holistic support for students with visual, mobility, hearing, learning, and other impairments. With the former providing a paradigm shift in disability management and support, the latter warrants the formation of a universally accessible environment.

According to Veitch, the focus moves away from the person with the disability, someone who ‘needs to be helped’, to the environment in which that person needs to function.

Since the center was founded in 2001, structural and systematic developments have occurred in order to create a welcoming and accessible learning environment that grants students opportunities to be successful in their academic endeavours.

UA endorses the UFS Mission Statement of human togetherness, advancing social justice by creating multiple opportunities for students to access the university, and promoting innovation, distinctiveness, and leadership in both academic and human pursuits.The UFS is committed to be a welcoming, accessible, and inclusive learning institution, an environment where optimal learning for a diverse student community thrives.

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