Boosting jobs and trade top agenda at farmers’ conference
30 October 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201916969
FOR three consecutive years emerging farmers throughout South Africa have gathered as members of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA) with the aspiration of becoming some of the country’s most competent and successful commercial farmers.
This year’s AFASA Conference on Agri-business Transformation took place in Bloemfontein recently under the theme, Farmers growing South Africa: Creating jobs and trade opportunities.
With Massey Ferguson, a global tractor brand of AGCO, and local distributor BHBW as platinum sponsors, the gathering aims to increase meaningful participation of emerging farmers in the agricultural sector.
To this end, the three-day conference included information sharing and dialogue between farmers previously excluded from the mainstream economy with various role players in the sector.
Together they tackled challenges affecting the broader agricultural landscape such as access to water and electrification, infrastructure development, job creation, barriers to market entry and government’s role in creating an environment for agrarian reform.
Speakers included Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza; her Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha; Deputy Minister in the Department of Water and Sanitation David Mahlobo and billionaire mining magnate, Patrice Motsepe.
Didiza’s keynote address highlighted the need for the sector to embrace technology and to explore new markets in order to ensure future growth.
“No region of the world has ever industrialized without the agricultural sector being first transformed. In our own country, we can attest that the main sectors that drove the level of industrialization we see today were agriculture and mining. However, there is still scope for deepening our industrialization in those areas of our country which are still under-developed but hold the promise for agricultural development,” she said.
The need for development was also echoed by Malisha Awunor, Human Resources Director at BHBW at the Gala dinner.
“We are excited to play our part in agribusiness transformation through the development of farmers and more importantly, building sustainable communities. Farmers, particularly emerging farmers will play a vital role in ensuring food security for South Africa’s future. We need to boost productivity by bringing under-utilised land into production, supporting job creation and community development,” Awunor said.
Representatives from commodity organisations and the finance industry were also invited to share their approach to the transformation of the agribusiness value chain such as effective retail finance solutions to emerging farmers.
The conference concluded with a detailed declaration and resolutions on how to improve crop standards, create more jobs and trade opportunities while for local agriculture and highlighted challenges.
Massey Ferguson technology and a range of product solutions were on display at the venue.