In order to propel youth in agriculture to greater heights, collaboration must take centre stage. This was the plea made by the African Farmers Association of South Africa (Afasa) leadership at the sixth annual Afasa Young Farmers Summit.
Attendees of over 80 young farmers were urged to harness the power of collaboration to amplify their individual strengths, skills, and experiences.
The summit took place at Diep in die Berg in Pretoria, Gauteng under the theme “Revolutionising Agriculture: Strengthening the Role and Participation of Young Farmers”.
Paving the way for a brighter future
In her welcoming address, Keatlegile Mnguni, the national youth chairperson of Afasa, underscored the pivotal role played by youth in agriculture. She characterised them as catalysts of change, advocates, and the driving force behind the agricultural landscape in South Africa.
“Today at our young farmer’s summit we embark on a collective mission to pave the way for a brighter future, a more sustainable one in the agricultural landscape of South Africa,” she said.
Mnguni reminded young farmers that they were the face of change.
While facing diverse challenges such as climate change, market fluctuations, access to resources and evolving consumer demands, Mnguni said it was farmer’s inherent resilience, adaptability and determination that will continue to steer farmers forward.
Mnguni’s speech served as a poignant reminder that young farmers are at the forefront of change.
“Let’s use this summit as a canvas that we can paint a vision on and be an inclusive agriculture, where there’s innovation and sustainability.
“We need to embrace the power of collaboration and take advantage of each other’s strength, skills and experiences to propel the agricultural industry into greater heights.”
Strategic vision amid challenges
Afasa CEO Thandeka Mbassa shed light on the organisation’s strategic vision for the future.
“Farmers might have frustrations with regards to what [they] expect Afasa to be doing. A lot of work has gone into implementing what we think is [the way forward] but things are moving very slowly,” she admitted.
“I’d rather not talk about it now but rather when things are happening.”
Mbassa highlighted their consistent focus on commodity chambers, and prioritising agro-processing. This strategic approach, she said, reflects their commitment to fostering agricultural value chains and aligns with a vision centred on enhancing agro-processing initiatives within the organisation.
Capitalising on agro-progressing opportunities
“One of the things we are emphasising is the need for development of competencies for African farmers and agro-processors. I think government realises that there are much more opportunities in agro-processing.
“We want to explore the various opportunities along the value chain with the emphasis being on agro-processing,” she said.
Attendees were also introduced to new technologies and offerings such as Pumpkin IO, a web-based platform that helps agribusinesses manage their finances and raise funding.
Unlocking financial success for agribusiness
During a panel discussion on land, funding opportunities and business development, co-founder of Pumpkin IO Fazlur Pandor shared how they provide businesses with a comprehensive financial compliance checklist and real-time updates on their financial standing.
It also offers tailor-made financing and funding opportunities specific to each business.
“When a business is ready we have several funding products that are available. The first one is short-term input funding, where you can have a turnaround in a week. This is usually used to buy fertilisers and possibly small machinery.
“We also have asset finance through one of our lending partners that are non-banking institutions. Then, for farmers who are more commercial with off-take agreements, we offer purchase order or invoice financing,” he said.
Chris Chaka, a Landbank commercial banker, pointed out common mistakes farmers make when applying for financing from Land Bank.
“One of the things includes the constant hopping between enterprises. One day you are doing chickens, then cabbages, and the next you are doing broilers. It becomes very difficult to create a track record for yourself.
“We are not saying don’t do mixed farming because it helps diversify your exposure, but stick to your niche and keep it simple,” he said.
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