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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 focuses on human rights and anti-racism
2017-03-20

Description: "Bongani Majola Tags: Bongani Majola
Prof Bongani Majola and Prof Leon Wessels at
the launch of the FSHRC.
Photo: Supplied

Human rights are part of the dominant moral and political language of our time, and demand a multi-layered scholarly engagement. These discussions influence national and international relations, and set standards for political and democratic practice.

New Centre for Human Rights launched

Since the academic space is a microcosm of society at large, it is crucial that the University of the Free State (UFS) takes part in such scholarly discussions, drawing lessons and crafting solutions from these dialogues.

To this end, the new Free State Centre for Human Rights (FSCHR) was officially launched on 14 March 2017 at the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS. Professor Bongani Majola, the newly elected chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), was the guest speaker at the event. The FSCHR began operating on 1 January 2016, under the leadership of Prof Leon Wessels, founding member of the SAHRC, as the acting director of the centre. 

A priority on the centre’s agenda will be to uphold the February 2011 post-Reitz agreement between the SAHRC and UFS, which was subsequently made an order of the Equality Court. This order compelled the UFS to establish such a centre. The centre presents new opportunities for cooperation between the UFS and SAHRC and other stakeholders to benefit the UFS and the broader community.

Anti-Racism Week marked by IRSJ

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ), in conjunction with the newly-launched FSCHR, the Anti-Racism Network of South Africa (ARNSA), and the Arts and Culture office of Student Affairs presented an event on Friday 17 March 2017 to mark Anti-Racism Week (14-21 March) and Human Rights Day (21 March).

This second annual Anti-Racism Week sees seven days observed for all institutions, organisations, and individuals to fight racism, with each day having an assigned theme, such as ‘Be Aware’ (14 March) and ‘BeCome’ (21 March).

“Battling racism
is a life-long
commitment”
—JC van der Merwe,
Acting Director, IRSJ

JC van der Merwe, Acting Director of the IRSJ, said, “Battling racism is a life-long commitment. It is time for us to tackle the problem head-on. Anti-Racism Week gives us the platform to communicate within the university, within our communities, but also at grassroots level. The idea this year is that we all BeCome champions against racism, not just during this week, but that it will become part of everyday life on our campuses.”



Talented UFS students perform a flash mob dance prior to a collaborative event to mark Anti-Racism Week and Human Rights Day.
Video: UFS Instagram

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