With the AFASA Agribusiness Transformation Conference now just three days away, organisers have announced that one of the nation’s leading businessmen, billionaire Patrice Motsepe, will deliver the keynote address to farmers and agripreneurs.
More than 300 delegates are expected at the annual conference kicking off on Sunday afternoon at Imvelo Safari in Bloemfontein. Seats are filling up fast for the conference boasting many high-profile speakers, including the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza, and Free State premier Sisi Ntombela.
With the conference theme focusing on job creation and trade opportunities, many farmers have also confirmed that they will be participating in panel discussions over the three days. This includes the award-winning Western Cape citrus farmer Wayne Mansfield, the KwaZulu-Natal based vegetable farmer Nomalanga Pascal and Lundi Delano Kama who farms with grain, livestock and fruit in the Eastern Cape.
Mansfield says, “I’m super excited to be attending my first AFASA conference. I always enjoy meeting, engaging and networking with other farmers. The conference is a perfect opportunity to be inspired and to better understand where we’re heading as black farmers in the country”.
During the three-day conference, Tshililo Ronald Ramabulana, the former CEO of the National Agricultural Marketing Council, will speak on the deregulation of agricultural markets in the country.
This will be followed by a panel discussion featuring, amongst others, Busisiwe Ngwenya, the executive manager for compliance at the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Commission, and Wandile Sihlobo, a leading agricultural economist with Agbiz and member of Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s newly appointed economic advisory panel.
Various commodity organisations will make presentations during the session on South Africa’s 10-year agricultural plan. Participating are Victor Mongoato from the South African Grain Association (SAGRA), Aggrey Mahanjana from the National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (NERPO), Thembi Xaba from the Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber (DFDC), Dr Siyabonga Madlala from the SA Farmers’ Development Association (SAFDA), Mike Gcabo from AGRA and Unati Speirs from the Emerging Black Importers and Exporters of SA (EBieSA).
AFASA president Dr Vuyo Mahlati says the AFASA Agribusiness Transformation Conference is a great highlight on the annual farmers’ events calendar.
She is also set to reveal her much-anticipated Agribusiness Transformation Barometer which will push black farmers to the centre of driving transformation as entrepreneurs, farmers and agri-processors. Its purpose is to measure the progress of transformation across the food value chain, with a focus on meaningful participation of black farmers in the commercial sector.
Mahlati says AFASA has, however, realised that even established businesses need to be transformed to meet future challenges. “The transformation goes beyond black and white. It looks at transforming to be resilient in the face of climate change and the shift in the global market.”
AFASA’s national manager, Malapane Thamaga says, “in the past years, emerging farmers have been on the receiving end of agricultural reform. What makes this year’s conference stand out is the fact that, for a change, emerging farmers will be charting their path by articulating their 10 years’ aspirations through their respective commodity leaders and inviting government, the private sector and multinationals to join hands towards driving an inclusive economic growth”.
The conference will also highlight the role that various state institutions have played in the journey of Mzansi farmers.
Dr Shadrack Moiphuli, the CEO of the Agricultural Research Council, will join, amongst others, Pinkie Lucawa, an HR executive with South Africa’s Official Perishable Produce Export Certification Agency (PPECB) and Dr Baptiste Dungo, CEO of Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP), to present on this matter.