Today Food For Mzansi turns one. But, unlike one-year-old humans, we aren’t celebrating our first birthday with a theme party, fizzy drinks and party packs. We’re celebrating by giving birth to both a new book and a platform to support up-and-coming farmers and agripreneurs on their journeys.
Food For Mzansi co-founders Ivor Price and Kobus Louwrens say while it’s been a year of great successes, they are ready to shift to a new gear with Farmer’s Inside Track, an exclusive platform for agriculturists who are hungry for information and inspiration to help them start up and get up to sprinting speed as commercial producers and/or agri-processors.
Farmer’s Inside Track – available on different platforms, including videos, podcasts, a weekly e-mailer, a WhatsApp line and a new Facebook group – is the result of months of behind-the-scenes work to accelerate the journey of hundreds of agriculturists who have reached out to Food For Mzansi since its launch at the end of October 2018.
Food For Mzansi broke new ground as the country’s only agricultural lifestyle and news platform, telling South Africans the inspiring stories of our world-class agriculturists. Farmer’s Inside Track, on the other hand, will be locked down for farmers and agripreneurs exclusively.
Price says: “Food For Mzansi has had an amazing year, with the support of the VKB Group and our other partners in the agri sector. Since our launch, nearly 300 000 people have been inspired by our digital efforts to salute agriculture’s unsung heroes. In fact, those 300 000 people have been quite a busy bunch, clocking about 7,5 million social media and website impressions.”
Happy 100th birthday, VKB!
Koos Janse van Rensburg, MD of the VKB Group, congratulates Food For Mzansi for reaching this milestone, saying that agriculture is the one industry that we all have a stake in. We cannot survive or thrive without the food and fiber that are the products of agriculture.
Janse van Rensburg says that the agricultural industry is extremely politicised and there are enough reasons for this. “The unequal distribution of resources is probably one of the biggest reasons. I believe that the solution will be found while we continue to focus on doing what the agricultural value chain demands of us. I also believe that we should all play a role in coming up with solutions for creating a more equal industry. This while ensuring we maintain international competitiveness for the sake of our country’s food security,” he says.
“This is why Food For Mzansi is such a beautiful initiative. It says: ‘Let’s remove the politics and see what’s happening every day at ground level. Let’s create a shared space and invite everybody in, giving them the opportunity to talk and be heard without judgement. Let’s show one another the way.’”
VKB is celebrating its centenary this year. “We are immensely proud of how the company has not only survived, but prospered with the hard work of its employees and the support of the farmers that we exist to serve. In its 100th year, VKB is the most diversified agriculture business in South Africa. We are most proud of the difference we make every day in the areas where we operate, ploughing back resources into the rural communities and economies that depend on us.”
Louwrens says that Farmer’s Inside Track is a much-needed lifeline for new farmers and agripreneurs. With this convenient source of industry information new farmers and agri-business owners now have free, but exclusive access to content. In addition they can join an online community that aims to support up-and-coming commercial farmers through that tricky phase of their businesses that comes between the starter pistol and finding their stride in the sprint towards the finish line.
‘For the Love of the Land’
He adds, “When a baby turns one, you’ve reached an important milestone. We’re also most proud to announce that For the Love of the Land, a book co-authored by Ivor and I, are now available in bookstores nationwide. Despite a helluva busy year we’ve managed to document the life journeys of 30 farmers – not the usual suspects! – along with a few writers we hand-picked to contribute to our book. This includes Sandile Ngidi, Malixole Gwatyu, Anneliese Burgess and Ricardo Arendse.”
Price says holding the book in their hands for the first time proved a slightly surreal moment. “Heaven knows how we managed to pull it off with our hectic schedules. It really is the perfect birthday present, not only to ourselves, but to a nation in transition.
For the Love of the Land proves that a diverse crop of farmers from across the country share complex, layered stories about heritage and land – at times surviving traumas like land dispossession and forced labour and the more current spectre of violent farm crimes. From the small farms to the agri-businesses that feed South Africa against the odds, our book relays the power of land to heal, by telling stories that are often overlooked.”
Farmer’s Inside Track
Food For Mzansi editor Dawn Noemdoe says she and her team are committed to not merely getting their one-year-old to its second birthday, but to continue inspire South Africans on as many platforms as possible.
She says, “We’re also set on turning Farmer’s Inside Track into a home for new agricultural thought leaders. Over the next two months we’ll be introducing regular columns by young farmers such as Andile Ngcobo from Tusokhule Farm in Pietermaritzburg and Mbali Nwoko from Green Terrance in Boksburg. The reader who’s interested in increasing market access can look forward to the weekly contributions by Dr Sifiso Ntombela and his team of agri-economists at the National Agricultural Marketing Council.”
Noemdoe says readers can also look forward to opinion pieces by Lunathi Hlakanyane, a well-known agricultural economist who’s the inspiration behind Thought Tractor. Furthermore, Hein Gerwel, a lecturer at Stellenbosch University’s department of rural development and agrarian reform, will also share his insights along with Unati Speirs from the Emerging Black Importers and Exporters of South Africa and Cebisile Nyambe from UN Women.
To access the exclusive content when Farmer’s Inside Track launches on 5 November, just go to www.farmersinsidetrack.co.za and sign up for free. Also be sure to join the Farmers Inside Track Facebook group.