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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

South Campus supplementary schools foster future Kovsies
2016-07-13

The Monyetla Bursary Project, in partnership with the University of the Free State (UFS) and other sponsors, presents an annual Winter School for Grade 12s on the South Campus. In addition, a Saturday school for Grade 12s has been in operation since 2007.

 “Champion teachers
in the district
assist learners”

Chris Grobler, a science teacher at Navalsig High School in Bloemfontein, is the organiser of both schools. He says, “I saw it as a tragic state of affairs that those offering bursaries and the bright learners from our formerly disadvantaged schools were not meeting up with each other.”

The first year saw 300 learners attending, with five subjects being presented. This tally has since grown to 650 learners each Saturday, with 11 subjects being presented, including Business Studies, Computer Applications Technology (CAT), Geography, Maths, and English.

“Our vision was to get champion teachers in the district to assist learners to qualify for university bursaries,” says Grobler. The project has succeeded in attracting educators with extensive experience as chief markers or even subject advisors in the Department of Education.

Description: Winter school  Tags: Winter school

Roald Rautenbach presents the Computer Applications
Technology (CAT) class while Peet Jacobs interprets in SASL.
Video recordings are also made for later distribution.

Photo: Eugene Seegers

Wider reach

“This year, the 1 200 learners at the Winter School hail not only from the Free State but also from as far as North-West, Gauteng, and the Eastern Cape.” Grobler says, “We are very pleased about this, as it means that the image of the UFS is being carried further afield.”

Lesego Modisele, one of the visiting learners from Parys, says, “I like how they brought in teachers that are heads of their subjects, who are very experienced and help us a lot. They explain how exam papers are set and which important things to focus on.”

By means of the Schools Partnership Programme (SPP), 250 learners from Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo have also been assisted. Katleho Setloho, who was one of these students, is currently a medical student at the UFS.

A special feature included in this year’s programme is interpreting services in South African Sign Language (SASL) for Deaf students. As an added bonus, a disc of the sessions in SASL is being compiled for English, Mathematics, and CAT, with plans for it to be distributed to the deaf community in the rest of South Africa via the UFS.

 

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