The South African wine industry is currently experiencing unprecedented challenges, but a low often also provides opportunities for growth. This is the theme of Agri-Expo’s first SIYABONGA Day for 2021, which follows on the success of their first three SIYABONGA Days presented in 2020.
The Wellington SIYABONGA Day takes place on Wednesday, 31 March at Thokozani Conferencing at Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate.
It will also be live-streamed on various platforms, including Food For Mzansi, so that farmers and new entrants to agriculture from all over can participate.
SIYABONGA creates an innovative platform for the agricultural community to have a conversation about challenges and opportunities in the industry, says Breyton Milford, operations manager of Agri-Expo.
“The SIYABONGA Days provide basic agricultural information in a unique format where farmers share a platform with industry experts, get the opportunity to ask questions and thus broaden their knowledge to eventually be more productive,” he says.
According to Milford, the word SIYABONGA, which means thank you, is also an acronym for “Sharing Information to Improve Yields in Agriculture for a Better-Off Next Generation of Agriculturalists.”
“Our programme content focuses on key factors that can strengthen the agricultural sector, including involvement of women, opportunities for young people, empowerment, as well as alternative ways of thinking and doing.”
Top speakers confirmed
During the Wellington SIYABONGA Day, four experts will share advice and insights on empowerment in the industry, as well as on opportunities for women and young people.
The award-winning Denise Stubbs, managing director of Thokozani Wines, will talk about transformation in the industry. Thokozani Staff Holdings, an empowerment company owned by 65 Diemersfontein employees, recently became the majority shareholder of the Diemersfontein brand.
Also, Wendy Petersen, operations manager of the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (Sawitu), will share a vision for the future of an inclusive industry during the SIYABONGA Day.
Petersen has more than 27 years of experience in the wine industry. At Sawitu, she focuses on ensuring that black-owned enterprises and farms receive the necessary mentorship, funding, marketing and technical support to ensure that their enterprises are sustainable.
Inspiration comes from 24-year-old Kelsey Shungking, who has been a protégé of the Cape Winemakers Guild for the past three years.
Shungking, who is currently doing an internship at Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, will talk about her experience of opportunities for women winemakers.
Brenton Maarman, lecturer in microbiology and viticulture at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute, will focus on training and career opportunities for young people in his SIYABONGA Day talk.
Maarman was a 2011 recipient of the Cape Winemakers Guild’s Protégé Scholarship while he was still a BSc Agric student in viticulture and oenology at Stellenbosch University. He has since also obtained a Master’s degree in wine microbiology from the university.
Empowering small-scale farmers
The SIYABONGA Days are presented with the support of the Western Cape department of agriculture, with whom Agri-Expo has been collaborating since 2014 to provide information to small-scale farmers in the Western Cape in particular.
“As the Western Cape department of agriculture, we want to provide the necessary support to our farmers to improve productivity and ensure food security,” said Dr Mogale Sebopetsa, the head of the department.
“The agricultural sector is the sunshine sector that is key to the economic recovery of not just the Western Cape but for South Africa. The SIYABONGA Days create an ideal platform to reach more people with this message.”