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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

Arts and Science collaborate in creating sustainable futures
2016-03-16

Description: Dr Keith Armstrong Tags: Dr Keith Armstrong

Creating a future where living green is the status quo: Dr Keith Armstrong
Photo: Lihlumelo Toyana

In creating partnerships across disciplines, mankind gains a deeper understanding of how to create the future. This is the premise upon which Dr Keith Armstrong bases his research and experimental art. Dr Armstrong is an Australian Hybrid Media artist and a Senior Research Fellow at Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

Artists that make things happen

“My journey has shifted from an artist that makes things to an artist that makes things happen,” he said at the New Futures: Innovations in Arts and Science public talk recently at Oliewenhuis Art Museum. The talk, organised by the Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery, was part of a series of artistic projects presented by the Programme for Innovation in Arts and Development (PIAD). This initiative is spearheaded by the UFS and Vrystaat Arts Festival, kindly supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Dr Angus Hervey – an Australian writer, technologist and science communicator– was also a speaker at the event. Dr Hervey is a co-founder of Future Crunch, a platform for intelligent, optimistic thinking about the future. He strongly shares Dr Armstrong’s passion and viewpoints.

Dr Armstrong’s work is motivated by social and ecological justice. His non-traditional research and more than 60 artworks serve to evoke audiences to create sustainable futures.

Building the future

Dr Armstrong is in the process of making “things happen” in informal settlements across the Free State by means of his Re-Future project. The project brings together sustainability, community development, and creative action. It moves away from conventional art practices and instead offer a platform to rethink and therefore re-future our practices of sustainability.

The Re-Future project has been initiated through a collaboration between the Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery, the UFS Centre for Development Support (CDS) and Qala Phelang Tala (QPT) and the Vrystaat Art Festival.

According to Anita Venter, a lecturer at CDS and founder of QPT, empowerment is at the centre of the artist-initiated, yet community-controlled project. “It gives a new direction and new hope to the community,” she said.

For more information
Angela de Jesus, dejesusav@ufs.ac.za or +27(0)51 401 2706

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