New barometer will measure transformation progress

Measurement tool and index will enable a strategic approach, said AFASA president Dr Vuyo Mahlati.

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A tool to measure the state of transformation in the South African agriculture sector and to inform the government and business on the steps required to bring about change, was launched by Dr Vuyo Mahlati, President of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA) this morning.

The AFASA Agri-business Transformation Barometer and Index is born from the current lack of clear measurement on the progress of transformation, and will start with the compiling of a farmer register in partnership with the Wits Business School.

Mahlati officially launched the barometer on the third day of the AFASA Agri-business Transformation Conference in Bloemfontein. The tool will focus on measuring the meaningful participation of black farmers in the commercial sector and their integration in the value chain. No clear measurement currently exists, and without proper measurement transformation in the sector cannot be addressed effectively, Mahlati said.

“There is no strategic approach to current transformation,” she said.

“We are, for example, not clear about the contribution of the inputs of smallholder or black producers to food security.”

The barometer will assist in generating policy proposals for overcoming transformation weaknesses. It will measure the initiatives of Government, state-owned enterprises and financial services, as well as commercial farmers and commodity groups. The spotlight will be on the participation of black farmers as owners, managers and suppliers in agriculture. Specific emphasis is placed on women.

Mahlati said the barometer and index will develop a database which focuses on the four pillars as underlined by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s advisory panel on land reform: redistribution, restitution, land tenure and land administration and governance.

Its unique contributions will include tracking the state of progress and identifying constraints. It will also aid in developing evidence-based insights. These will be geared to enriching the implementation of strategies to promote economic inclusion.

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In addition to the partnership with Wits, the barometer will draw from the data and insights of institutions such as The Land Bank, Statistics South Africa and The Department of Agriculture and Land Reform.

Regular feedback on the barometer findings will be given and AFASA will engage with those not coming to the transformation party.

“I’ve realised that people don’t just change. Sometime they need pressure to do so, and sometimes dialogue helps them change,” she said.

“We will also create a space for productive policy dialogue amongst key stakeholders, including government, academics, policy researchers, financiers, agricultural groups and other private sector companies with a view to responding to real policy or implementation challenges.”

She also expects the barometer and index to give clear indications of where and how agri training is necessary to enhance transformation and encourage dialogue.

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