In the heart of South Africa’s agricultural landscape, there exists a force for change, a catalyst for progress – Agri Enterprises, led by Pieter de Jager, its visionary CEO. In an interview with Food For Mzansi, he shared insights into the inspiring journey that led him into agriculture and the pivotal role the Agri SA subsidiary plays in shaping the future of the agricultural sector.
As a qualified chartered accountant, De Jager has a hands-on approach to agriculture, as well as a commercial-scale farmer. He is dedicated to enhancing the sector by scrutinising projects from their inception to delivery, ensuring their success.
A commercial mindset meets development
However, he has always been aware of a gap in the sector: the lack of successful agricultural development projects. With a mission to bridge this gap, he ventured into Agri Enterprises, an organisation deeply committed to creating positive change.
Under De Jager’s leadership, Agri Enterprises has already undertaken several transformative projects. One notable initiative is the mentorship programme for women in farming in KwaZulu-Natal. This three-year programme empowers 60 women in agriculture, guiding them toward entrepreneurship and cooperative ventures. It has not only fostered individual growth but has also seen the formation of thriving cooperatives, a testament to its success.
Another impactful initiative is the Nedbank agribusiness incubator, spanning six provinces and focusing on five commodities. This programme is not just about agricultural development; it’s about nurturing sustainable agribusinesses that can thrive in the competitive market.
De Jager emphasised the multifaceted challenges faced in the agricultural sector, from skill shortages to market access difficulties. Agri Enterprises tackles these challenges head-on, employing a holistic approach that combines financial guidance, skill development, and market access strategies.
At the end of the day, the chances of new entrants into agriculture gaining commercial success increases, he said. “The goal is to establish viable commercial farming enterprises which drive rural development, job creation and can unlock generational wealth for the participants.”
The power of partnerships
One of the cornerstones of Agri Enterprises’ success lies in its partnerships. By collaborating with funders, provincial associations, commodity organisations, and corporate members, it ensures a comprehensive approach to agricultural development. These partnerships not only provide financial support but also offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise, making the transformation journey smoother and more effective.
As we reflect on De Jager’s inspiring words and the transformative work of Agri Enterprises, there’s a call to action for individuals, businesses, and governments. The path to a thriving agricultural sector lies in collaboration, tailored interventions, and a long-term commitment to sustainable development.
“Everyone kind of becomes part of the sustainable programmes. We share the vision to establish commercially viable enterprises at the end of the day,” he added.
“We really want to see that people buy into a more long-term process and realise that it takes a number of interventions to lead individuals to a level where they can actually compete commercially.”
By supporting initiatives like those spearheaded by Agri Enterprises, we aren’t just investing in agriculture; we’re investing in the future of South Africa – a future where empowered farmers, thriving agribusinesses, and a sustainable environment coexist harmoniously.
In the tapestry of South Africa’s agricultural transformation, Agri Enterprises is therefore not just a thread but a vibrant, dynamic pattern, weaving together dreams, aspirations, and opportunities.
Through their dedication and innovative approaches, they are nurturing a brighter tomorrow for the agricultural community and, by extension, the nation as a whole. Let’s stand with them, support them, and together, cultivate a future where the fields are ripe with not just crops but also boundless possibilities.
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