Partnerships in agriculture are more important than ever, pleaded the outgoing Agri Western Cape president Cornie Swart at the organisation’s annual congress.
Speaking during a virtual broadcast, in the wake of covid-19 restrictions, he called on producers to unlock synergies in the agricultural value chain. “In the Western Cape we do not shy away from challenges. We realise the importance of a value chain that functions in synergy. We must establish a strong and efficient value chain within which synergy will ensure eventual success.”
Swart told attendees that he foresees a brighter future after 2020, which he described as a crazy year.
His sentiments were echoed by Dr Benjamin Dent, the co-author of A guide to value chain analysis and development for overseas development assistance projects. He joined the Agri Western Cape congress from the UK, reminding producers that “stronger linkages are simply more competitive.”
Dent, a global expert in agri-food sector value chains, had great advice for producers who want to reach higher value markets. He said, “Work together to compete on value. Recognise your interdependence and your mutual interests. Work for stability in your relationships to conduct longer term planning and to be more innovative.”
Interdependence in agriculture
Furthermore, prof. André Louw, an agricultural economist, also stressed the value of interdependence in agriculture. “We cannot be caught-up in the past. In this environment, we need to look creatively at how we are going to tackle the future.”
Louw, who is an internationally respected researcher, advised farmers and organised agriculture to wholeheartedly embrace the future. His tips to attendees included the need to empower politicians who influence policy matters through active engagement.
“It is critically important to we empower politicians with knowledge and information to help them make informed policy decisions. It is often said that policy decisions are random and not aligned (with the needs of the agricultural sector.)”
Meanwhile the newly elected president of Agri SA, Pierre Vercueil, also addressed the congress virtually. “We hope that the new year will be much better for all farmers, and that we’ll be able to resolve the land matter through an agreement with government.”
Agri Western Cape elects new top brass
The Agri Western Cape congress came to a close with its chief executive, Jannie Strydom, announcing the organisation’s new office bearers.
Villiers Loubser, a grain producer from Durbanville, was elected as the president succeeding Swart who served since 2011. Loubser follows in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who also previously served as presidents of Agri Western Cape.
Heinie du Toit was elected as Agri Western Cape’s new vice president. He is a fruit producer from Ceres and has served as the organisation’s regional manager for Witzenberg since 2015. He succeeds Hugo de Waal.
Liam Viljoen, a grain and wine producer from Malmesbury, and Laubscher Coetzee, an ostrich producer from Oudtshoorn, were respectively elected chairman and vice-chairman of Agri Western Cape’s general business chamber.
Swart said he was excited to hand over the reins to a relatively young team. “You are taking over a strong and prosperous organisation and I am proud and confident of the hands that will now hold the reins. I know you understand the heart of agriculture and I wish you all the best.”