As we ease into our new normal under level two, Thursday promises to be an insightful day for the agriculture sector.
From the comforts of our own homes, we attend the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Connection: Southern Africa digital conference. We attentively listen as Dr Adre Minaar-Ontong imparts wisdom and advice on a thriving career as a plant breeder in AgriSETA Learner Connect, and the minister for agriculture lends a helping hand through the bull distribution project in the Western Cape.
Final day of Fresh Connections: Southern Africa
Following two engaging days of information sharing, the final day of the PMA’s Fresh Connections: Southern Africa conference promises to keep up the momentum. Over the course of three days, renowned industry experts and thought leaders explored the issues from different perspectives to allow attendees from all parts of the value chain to navigate the unpredictable environment brought on by the novel coronavirus.
Day three kicks off at 10:00 with a session called “What’s next? The future of fresh produce in Southern Africa.” It delves into the current crisis and the strain the global pandemic has brought to our shores. Looking into the future beyond the virus, a panel of experts will
explore industry predictions and help producers pivot business strategy in the long term. The panel includes, among others, prof. Phillipe Burger, vice dean at the University of the Free State’s faculty of economics and management sciences, the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy’s prof. Ferdi Meyer and chief economist at the National Agricultural Marketing Council, Dr Sifiso Ntombela.
The proceedings of the day conclude with an hour-long discussion starting at 11:30 titled “Stay ahead of the curve – the latest consumer and retail trends.” Speakers include Shereen Tromp, senior consultant at Euromonitor International and Sarina de Beer, managing director for Ask Africa. The powerhouse duo will look into developments that enable producers to “stay ahead of the curve” and explore the latest trends in the industry.
Meet a senior lecturer in plant breeding
Want to learn the art and science of manipulating heritability in plants for human benefit? Well, why not consider a career as plant breeder. In today’s AgriSETA Learner Connect we speak to Dr Adre Minnar-Ontong, senior lecturer in plant breeding at the University of the Free State.
AgriSETA Learner Connect is proudly brought to you by Food For Mzansi and transmitted on 19 different community radio stations throughout the country.
In today’s delivery, Minaar-Ontong explains that the career is quite the adventure and merges the best of two worlds by combining engineering and securing food security in the country.
In its simplest definition a plant breeder crosses two plants to produce an offspring that shares the best characteristics of the two parent plants. Throughout history the field has helped farmers solve complex challenges while also appeasing the appetites of consumers.
Missed the previous episode of the AgriSETA Learner Connect podcast? Listen here.
Small-scale producers receive bull power
The bull distribution project championed by the Western Cape department of agriculture is in full swing. This after minister Dr Ivan Meyer yesterday handed over registered bulls to seven small-scale producers in the province.
The initiative was established in 2016 in collaboration with the farmer support and development and veterinary services programmes and aims to distribute bulls with good genetic material to future commercial farmers in the province.
To date 41 bulls have been distributed to 26 small scale farmers in the Overberg, Eden, West Coast and Swartland Districts. This number will increase to 66 by the end of 2020.
Speaking at the event, Meyer highlighted that the project brings together three of his key priorities, namely market access, research and farmer support and development.
He said the Western Cape currently produces approximately 14% of the national beef output. “The intention is to increase the participation of small-scale beef producers in the beef market in the Western Cape and ultimately on a national scale.”
While the contribution by small-scale producers is relatively small, Meyer said making top breed genetics available to small-scale farmers can increase the volume and quality of the beef they produce, which will enable easier and greater access to the market.
Dr Mogale Sebopetse, head of the the Western Cape department of agriculture, committed the department to continuous support of small-scale farmers in the province through advisory and veterinary support services.