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29 February 2024 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo SUPPLIED
Dr Lindie von Maltitz
Dr Lindie von Maltitz spoke at DESTEA’s Free State Investment Conference (27 February), which was hosted on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. In her presentation, she highlighted, among other points, the advantages of the UFS as a strategic partner in the agricultural sector.

Dr Lindie von Maltitz, a Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State (UFS), contributed to the programme of the Free State Investment Conference (27 February), which was presented by the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA).

The primary objective of the conference, held in the Centenary Complex on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus, was to promote the province as an investment destination of choice and to showcase strategic investment projects across different municipalities. Additionally, the conference sought to connect local businesses with local and international investors and opportunities.

Representatives from financial institutions, academic institutions, national and provincial government departments, chambers of commerce, corporates, investors, and embassies attended the conference, which was opened by Councillor Gregory Nthatisi, the Executive Mayor of the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality. The honourable Mxolisi Dukwana, the Premier of the Free State, delivered the keynote address.

The sectors covered by the presentations at this conference included mining and gas extraction, transport and logistics, energy, infrastructure, tourism, and the agriculture and agro-processing sector. Dr Von Maltitz’s presentation, ‘Required investment to improve the performance of the agricultural sector in the Free State’, focused on the latter sector.

Representing the UFS in the session ‘Driving Inclusive Growth and Food Security: Agriculture’ – Dr Von Maltitz first focused on what agriculture in the Free State entails, and how it relates to the rest of the country. She then provided a brief overview of the role and importance of agriculture in the South African and Free State economy, adding to that the advantages that investment in the agricultural sector in the Free State will bring.

Numerous possibilities for investment in the sector

According to Dr Von Maltitz, the agricultural sector in the Free State is of vital importance to its economy. “Our income from agriculture and its related industries is the second largest in the country, after the Western Cape. There are numerous possibilities for investment in the sector, not limited to production, but expanded to the entire agricultural value chain. Connecting with the right strategic partners can ensure the success of investment projects. The UFS can contribute as a strategic partner, bringing knowledge, expertise, research, and local and global networking to the table,” she stated.

The importance of investing in the agricultural sector, according to Dr Von Maltitz, is linked to two of South Africa’s biggest challenges: unemployment and poverty. “Investing in agriculture addresses both of these issues. Jobs are created for both unskilled and skilled labour while producing and processing food. The higher agricultural investment is on the agenda, the better for economic growth in our province and country,” said Dr Von Maltitz.

"With food security for a global population that has expanded from 2,5 billion in 1950 to 7,9 billion in 2021, agriculture and its related industries are the sector that will remain important until time immemorial,” remarked Dr Von Maltitz.

She is of the opinion that the Free State presents many opportunities for this sector. Dr Von Maltitz believes there are very few agricultural products that cannot be produced in the Free State. “For example, fruit produced in our province is market-ready before that of the Western Cape. This allows us to access local and international markets early, when prices are higher due to a supply shortage. Because we have cold temperatures in winter, our area has fewer livestock diseases than those found in other parts of the country,” she added.

“Assured by a supportive policy environment, functional infrastructure, and expert knowledge base, investors can be encouraged to invest in the agricultural sector in the Free State,” said Dr Von Maltitz.

In the Free State, however, the development of the agricultural sector is facing several challenges. In her view, failing infrastructure and load shedding are the biggest problems. “Our roads are among the worst in the country, making timely access to markets more difficult. Load shedding has an enormous impact on any processing facility. Climate change is something we need to incorporate into our planning process, continuously developing new risk management strategies for the sector,” she elaborated.

Advantages of the UFS as a strategic partner

She stated that the Free State is an agricultural hub open to many more possibilities. “Speaking as a representative of the UFS, I want to highlight the advantages for investors of the UFS as a strategic partner. Our Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences is one of the best in the country and offers knowledge, skills, and expertise in every field related to agriculture, including soil scientists, animal scientists, climate scientists, crop scientists, wildlife and grassland scientists, plant breeders and pathologists, agronomists, agrometeorologists, and agricultural economists. The value we offer can be attractive to investors who will be reassured by our competence, as supported in the university’s Vision130, which defines our values, namely excellence, innovation and impact, accountability, care, social justice, and sustainability,” Dr Von Maltitz said.

News Archive

Community of Qwaqwa gives Prof Petersen a warm Basotho welcome
2017-05-16

 

 Description: Prof Petersen with Basotho hat and blanket Tags: Prof Petersen with Basotho hat and blanket

 Prof Francis Petersen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State
Photo: Ian van Straaten

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Video

Various stakeholders pledged their support to the newly-appointed Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof Francis Petersen, during the first in a series of welcoming events that was held at the Qwaqwa Campus on Thursday 11 May 2017.

A message of support and welcome from the Paramount Queen of the Bakoena Royal Council, Mofumahadi Mathokoana Mopeli, took everybody in attendance back three decades to the time when the campus was first established.

“The Qwaqwa Campus of the then University of the North was created to swell this area and the broader Eastern Free State with intellectual capacity,” she said.

“It is with this in mind that we encourage you, Prof Petersen, to continue upholding the best of your predecessors. Search for what they could not achieve and learn from that. Traditional leadership in this area will always be a friend to the university,” she added.

Description: Community of Qwaqwa gives Prof Petersen a warm Basotho welcome Tags: Community of Qwaqwa gives Prof Petersen a warm Basotho welcome

Prof Petersen received a warm Basotho
welcome from Morena Thokoana Mopeli and
Paramount Queen Mofumahadi Mathokoana Mopeli of
the Bakoena Royal Council. With them is
Mrs Cheslyn Petersen.
Photo: Thabo Kessah

The Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District was represented by the Acting District Director, Lindiwe Mabaso, who expressed the district’s pride in being associated with the university.

“Our district is excelling in Mathematics and Science, and this can be attributed to the educators that we get from the Qwaqwa Campus. We are proud to say that we are number one nationally when it comes to Mathematics and Science, and this is through the support we get from the campus. Our schools will continue to be centres of excellence under the new leadership of Prof Petersen,” she said.

Staff and students weigh in

Both Nehawu and Uvpersu expressed their optimism in working with Prof Petersen.

Branch chairperson of Nehawu, Teboho Pitso, said the union appreciated the fact that Prof Petersen was taking over the leadership of the institution at a very difficult time, both institutionally and nationally.

“As workers, we are faced with a lot of challenges and we hope that none of us will be retrenched under your leadership,” he said to an appreciative audience consisting of various internal and external stakeholders.

Acting Chairperson of UVPERSU, Khethiwe Biyo, said the workers’ union was happy that Prof Petersen believed in teamwork.

“Your commitment in working with us is appreciated. We look forward to learning from you about institutional innovation,” she said.

Students were represented by the Qwaqwa Campus SRC President, Njabulo Mwali, who expressed the need for a deeper and detailed transformation process.

“Your expertise and skills have set you above all other aspirant applicants for this position, and we hope that we will learn a lot on this journey,” he said.

“We at the UFS are actively, intentionally,
and continuously engaged in promoting
diversity.”

"Ensure fairness" 

In his response, Prof Petersen emphasised the importance of inclusivity and innovativeness. He said, “Staff and students at the three sites of learning must do all they can to ensure that the UFS realises its goal of being an inclusive institution, one that provides equal access and opportunities to everyone, makes a conscious effort to prevent discrimination, and ensure fairness.”

“Being committed to inclusivity means that we at the UFS are actively, intentionally, and continuously engaged in promoting diversity. This diversity is expressed through our people and through the curriculum, and in the way we work with our communities to promote awareness, empathy, and understanding of the complex ways individuals interact. As you know, our ultimate goal as a university is not only to educate young people up to the point that they graduate. What they learn during their time with us should help shape them into people who can think innovatively in order to address the challenges that face us in the 21st century,” he said.

The Qwaqwa Campus Chorale and the award-winning choir from The Beacon Secondary School in Phuthaditjhaba provided the entertainment.

Similar events will respectively be hosted on the South and Bloemfontein Campuses on 18 and 19 May 2017.

 

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