At only 32, Malapane Thamaga has been specially chosen by minister Thoko Didiza to serve as one of her representatives on the Maize Trust. He joins us on this podcast episode to discuss the appointment.
Thamaga, an agricultural economics graduate from the University of Stellenbosch, has previously worked as an agricultural economist at the National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (Nerpo), and as national manager of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA).
“Being in AFASA prepared me for serving in a position like this one, in the sense that AFASA is a multi-stakeholder organisation that exists in all provinces. It caters for all commodities and for farmers falling in different segments, from subsistence to smallholder and commercial farmers.
“I’ll argue that there’s no better way to prepare for a position like this than being in the… space where agricultural policy is discussed.”
Thamaga says he is excited to serve as a ministerial representative on the trust, as it means he will be in a better position to contribute to the advancement of the agricultural sector. “I really felt excited that, finally, I [am] closer to where decision making about the direction of the country’s agricultural sector really takes place, especially on issues [like] food security, with maize being the staple food in South Africa.”
Still much to discover
As yet, Thamaga does not have a clear outline of how he will contribute to the running of the Maize Trust. He says that consulting with the various stakeholders will give him a clearer understanding of what needs to be done.
“We have decided, along with the other two trustees that are serving on behalf of the minister, to do some consultation work with farmers along the value chain; players along the value chain who are affected by decisions that are made at the Maize Trust level.
“So, we are currently scheduling meetings with players in the space, from input to production, and those who are in the processing part of the value chain, so that we understand fully what the issues are and where they want to see the maize industry going.”
What is the Maize Trust?
Explaining the function of the Maize Trust, Thamaga says that the organisation generates funds to promote the South African maize industry. It was established in 1998, when it inherited R3 million from its pre-democracy predecessor, the Maize Board. Since then, the trust assets have grown to R1 billion.
“And it’s from these assets that the Maize Trust allocates funding to any entity in the maize industry [that] can demonstrate that [their] intended programme will benefit the industry as a whole.
“Therefore, if you are an organisation that is interested in applying for funding from the Maize Trust, you can visit the website to learn more about how to benefit from it. “
For agriculturalists who aspire to follow in his footsteps, Thamaga says that they should work as closely as they can with farmer organisations.
“We need to start to create a culture of taking agriculture personally, rather than [treating it as] just as a career where you go to work at eight and you knock off at five.”
“And, in addition to the work that you do, wherever you are deployed, take time during the weekends and engage with the leaders of farm organisations. Meet the chairperson or the secretary and understand what the issues are. And, where possible, volunteer yourself.”
Listen to the full conversation with Thamaga on the latest episode of Farmer’s Inside Track:
Apple Podcasts: Click here to listen on any Apple device.
Google Podcasts: Click here to listen on Google Podcasts.
Instant play: Just tap the “play” button below to listen right here.