South Africa’s wine industry has faced an extraordinary number of challenges over the course of the past year, but low points often make space for opportunities to grow.
This was the take-home message of Agri-Expo’s recent SIYABONGA Day held in Wellington in the Western Cape on March 31. Farmers from across the country viewed the live broadcast from the Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate.
During the event, four experts shared advice and insight on empowerment in the wine industry, as well as on opportunities for women and young people.
These were the experts:
- Denise Stubbs, managing director of Thokozani Wines, who talked 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. According to Stubbs, a brand name must represent the quality of your wine, as well as the goodwill that you do. “Our story is a story of hope,” Stubbs says. “If you think of doing something similar, come to us, we will help. We need to take hands and help each other.”
- Wendy Petersen, operations manager of the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (Sawitu), shared a vision for the future of an inclusive industry. At Sawitu, Petersen 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. Petersen said that her office door is always open and that “transformation is not possible without collaboration and partnerships”.
- Inspiration came 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, talked about her experience of opportunities for women winemakers. “I hope I can inspire at least one person to take that leap of faith,” Shungking said. “Know that you are as capable as anyone around you. Don’t let anybody tell you that you cannot do it.
- Brenton Maarman, lecturer in microbiology and viticulture at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute, discussed training and career opportunities for the youth – where one can study, what qualifications one can obtain, alternative options for entering the industry as well as the various career opportunities. “The only way you can change your circumstances is to be educated,” Maarman said.
SIYABONGA creates an innovative platform for the agricultural community to talk 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 industry, including involvement of women, opportunities for young people, empowerment, as well as alternative ways of thinking and doing,” he adds.
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 farmers in the Western Cape.
“Our programme content focuses on key factors that can strengthen the agricultural industry, including involvement of women, opportunities for young people, empowerment, as well as alternative ways of thinking and doing.”
“As the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, we want to provide the necessary support to our farmers to improve productivity and ensure food security,” says 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.”
Recordings of the previous SIYABONGA Days are still available at no cost at www.siyabongadays.co.za.
For more information, contact Agri-Expo on 021 975 4440 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @AgriExpo1 on social media.