Farming podcast: Agriculture is our solution

Unathi Mhlatyana, managing director of McCain Foods, joins the Farmer’s Inside Track farming podcast to talk about the opportunities in the agricultural supply chain to aid the government’s economic recovery plan. Other guests include agricultural economist Thabi Nkosi; Organic fertiliser specialist Thapelo Phiri; Carolien Samson, Grobank’s executive head for strategy and environmental, social and governance; and home cook Mahlodi Masipa

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In the South African National Budget Review for 2021, it was revealed that government’s recovery plan focuses on raising the economy’s long-term growth rate by supporting industries with high employment potential such as agriculture.  

This employment potential lies in the entire agricultural supply chain, says Unathi Mhlatyana, managing director of McCain Foods, who joins Mzansi’s favourite farming podcast as a guest this week. 

He points out that the sector has also seen a positive growth trajectory since 2019.  

“The agriculture sector recorded strong growth in 2020 with an annual gross value added of 11,3% in the first three quarters of 2020 relative to the same period in 2019,” says Mhlatyana on this week’s episode of Farmer’s Inside Track. “This positive trajectory is expected to continue in 2021.” 

Mhlatyana explains that the current unemployment rate has increased by 1,7% to a record 32,5%. So, it is vital for the public and private sectors to bolster agriculture, because the supply chain holds many job opportunities. 

However, one must take into account that agriculture is the largest contributor to biodiversity loss in SA, says Mhlatyana. 

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“(This is) due to changing consumption patterns and growing populations. That, together with biodiversity loss and climate change, puts immense pressure on farmers.” 

We need an improved understanding of what it will take to safeguard our food supply and ensure food security in Mzansi whilst continuing to bolster the sector.  

“This will require a combination of reducing food waste and embracing technological innovations; also a commitment to sustainability and regenerative agricultural and farming practices,” says Mhlatyana. 

The solution to food waste is multifaceted, he believes.

“It includes reducing waste on the farm and in storage, embracing new production methods, reducing food losses in retail, in food services and at home. It requires a broad-based collaboration amongst all the actors of the food value chain.” 

It is essential that farming practices transform towards sustainable regenerative agriculture practices that protect soil and groundwater and restores biodiversity.  

“We believe that it will take meaningful support by Mzansi’s food companies, retailers, food services players and government to support the farmers who are at the forefront of the transition to a sustainable agricultural sector, to create jobs, improve livelihoods and bring food to South African tables.” 

Listen to the full interview on this week’s Farmer’s Inside Track farming podcast. Find the links to the podcast below. 

Other farming podcast highlights: 

This week’s Farmer’s Inside Track also has other highlights for the agriculture sector: 

  • Finding and purchasing land to farm seems daunting, but there are a few simple steps to take to fulfil your farming dream! Journalist Dona van Eeden has put together a list of five ways for you to get land to farm on. 
  • Agricultural economist Thabi Nkosi questions why the agriculture sector is often seen as the perpetual ugly duckling. In her 2018 TedTalk she presented a somewhat disarming take on the state of agriculture in Africa.  
  • App of the week: Have you ever heard of the FeedCalculater app? Well, it’s an app aimed to generate quality feed recipes from locally available ingredients. Find out more on today’s Farmer’s Inside Track farmers podcast episode. 
  • Farmer’s tip of the week: Organic fertiliser specialist Thapelo Phiri encourages farmers to explore organic fertilisers to farm sustainably.  
  • Book of the week: Farmers choose The Perfect Predator by Steffanie Strathdee and Thomas Patterson as their book of the week. This book provides a glimpse into the potential treatment of bacterial infections in an antibiotic resistant world through the use of bacteriophages, bacteria-eating viruses. Carolien Samson, Grobank’s executive head for strategy  and environmental, social and governance, reviewed this book on behalf of our farmers. 
  • Mzansi Flavour: The Gauteng-based chef Lesego “Barry Smooth” Moetse shares his secret to the perfect home cooked Mzansi meal

How to listen to Farmer’s Inside Track 

Option 1:  Click here to listen on Spotify (all mobile and other devices). 

Option 2:  Click here to listen on any Apple device. 

Option 3:  Click here to listen on Google Podcasts. 

Option 4:Click here listen using this player. Just click “play”. 

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