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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

National 3MT competition held at UFS
2017-03-29

Description: 3MT 2017 Tags: 3MT 2017

The two winners of the Three minute thesis
competition, Andrew Verrijdt (left) and
Kerryn Warren (right).
Photo: Charl Devenish


From Neanderthal hybrid children to eating corn silk as a way of managing kidney diseases, the National Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT) captivated the mind.

“We brought the competition to South Africa and hosted the local, regional, and national competitions for the past few years,” said Dr Emmie Smit, organiser of the event. It is an opportunity to raise the profile of postgraduate research and to develop a cross-disciplinary student community to effectively communicate research to a wide audience. The event was founded by the University of Queensland, Australia. The third national 3MT competition took place at the University of the Free State (UFS) on Friday 24 March 2017.

Three minutes and one slide
During the competition, participants had three minutes to explain their master’s or doctoral research and one static PowerPoint slide could be used. “It is very important that this slide works for you. There must be some way the information on the slide connects to what you present,” said Dr Henriette van den Berg, Director of the Postgraduate School at the UFS.
 
Winners grateful for opportunity
“It is an honour and a drive. It is very nice to have this sort of thumbs up,” said Kerryn Warren, winner of the Science category. Her research title was, What did a Human-Neanderthal Child Look Like? “I have been looking at the hybrids between different species and subspecies of mice in order to use them as a model to find out what human hybrids looked like.”

The presentation by Andrew Verrijdt, winner of the Humanities category, entitled Hiding in the Deep: Anonymous Websites for Paedophiles on the ‘Darknet’, gave a glimpse into the mysterious and dangerous realm of the dark web. “I am grateful for the opportunity. Primarily because I think it’s an important topic, and society will benefit by getting the word out there as it is a sensitive topic,” he said. The two winners, both from the University of the Cape Town, won R15 000 each.  A further R30 000 of prize money went to the four runners-up.

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