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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 takes steps to address power shedding
2008-01-31

The problem of power shedding was urgently discussed by the Executive Committee of the Executive Management (Exco) during its meeting yesterday.

A report was presented by Ms Edma Pelzer, Director: Physical Resources and Special Projects, and a consulting electrical engineer about possible short, medium and long term solutions for the UFS.

This includes (a) the possible installation of equipment (eg. power generators) and (b) operating procedures to ensure the UFS’s functionality despite power shedding.

We are also in contact with Centlec to bring about the best possible arrangements for the UFS regarding the power shedding. It is possible that refined power shedding schedules will be implemented within a few weeks or a month to ensure that there is minimal disruptions at the UFS (especially during evening lectures).

In the long term it is unaffordable to generate power for the whole campus to meet everyone’s electricity needs. Only critical points will be supplied with emergency power generators.

Emergency power generation for certain critical points have already been provided for (eg. the Callie Human Centre, the evacuation of large halls, computer services, critical long term research projects, etc.). We have been doing surveys since 2006 to determine the UFS’s preparedness for “normal” power failures. The extent of the current situation has, however, taken the whole country by surprise.

Certain urgent steps were decided on yesterday. A decision was made to immediately design emergency power systems and supply it to the new examination centre and large lecture halls such as the Stabilis, Flippie Groenewoud, Agriculture building, and possibly the West Block. The delivery and installation of these systems will, however, take from three to six months.

The UFS will have to manage despite the power shedding, even after the emergency power systems have been installed and we will not be able to function as normal. Every division must devise operating procedures to deal with the power shedding without jeopardising the quality of core functions.

Bloemfontein is luckier than many other cities because Centlec is able (so far) to keep to the published schedule to a large extent.

Plans are also being made to keep staff and students continuously informed via the UFS web site about expected power shedding schedules and risks of power shedding in the course of a day.

Exco requests every faculty and support service to think about suitable operational solutions for managing their work and meetings during a power shedding.

Every line head has instructions to urgently determine the situation and needs in his or her division and indicate what practical arrangements can and must be made to schedule work around the power shedding. Every line head must provide Exco with a status report within a week.

In this way critical areas in terms of core functions and high quality service delivery will be determined and receive attention. Security systems and the safety of staff and students will also receive specific attention - this includes the residences.

In the mean time the Department of Physical Resources will carry on with a wide-ranging investigation into the extent of needs and plans and will compile a budget for the solution thereof.

Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Vice-Rector: Academic Operations, and the deans had a meeting yesterday to discuss problems and possible solutions around the power shedding in eg. computer rooms, during evening lectures, and practical classes.

Options may include eg. alternative time slots (eg. weekends) or alternative halls (eg. at the Vista Campus) for evening lectures which are affected by power shedding, or adjusted teaching methods.

Staff is requested not to install their own power generators under any circumstances. It can be very dangerous when such apparatus are linked to a building’s electrical system. The safety of staff and students and the risks of fire or injuries must also be the highest priority under all circumstances.

The Department of Physical Resources is also in the process of investigating options such as smaller power generators or ‘UPS’ apparatus as part of a broader evaluation of needs and potential solutions.

Exco wants to ensure all staff and students that this matter is receiving urgent attention and will keep on receiving it.

If there are any practical solutions about dealing with the power shedding (such as alternative ways of working) you are invited to send an e-mail to: lightsout@ufs.ac.za  

 

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