ALFA 2018 offered a lot to see and a lot to do. One of the new introductions to ALFA was the FEAD sessions, a series of talks aimed at discussing development in the agricultural sector. These sessions specifically looked at emerging farming, agribusiness and development in Africa. Speakers of the sessions included experts in the industry in and outside the borders of South Africa. The sessions also gave an opportunity to farmers and other stakeholders who came to ALFA, to gain insight on how to improve their agribusinesses and to join in the conversation on how to grow the industry as a whole.

The speakers in the first session included Martin Potgieter from ANB Investments and Jeff Every from Amadlelo Agri who spoke on projects that have helped to develop small communities, and farmers to run their businesses successfully. The speakers agreed that developing small farmers in South Africa needs the collaboration of farmers, the government, the community as well as the investors in order for the project to be a success.

Funding models and sources of finance were discussed in the second session by Dr. Reuel Khoza. He outlined the potential sources that emerging farmers can consider for funding and the pro’s and cons for each model. A lot of criticism arose as farmers in the audience complained that government institutions have not done enough to help grow small farmers in the country. Dr. Khoza reiterated that it is important that the farming community organise themselves as a unit. “This will make it easier to get investors and to get the government to listen and take the industry seriously.”

Session three was a very informative session for small farmers and cattle farmers specifically. Dr. Celestine Ayok presented a strategy that small farmers can use to commercialise the dairy value chain. This model is called the Dairy Cluster model and Dr. Ayok used a real-life scenario that is currently taking place in Nigeria as an example. In this scenario the actions help to provide jobs for the community and help livestock farmers to sell their produce while also providing work for agro-processing facilities. The presentation by Dr. Ayok introduced livestock farmers in the audience to ideas on how to commercialise their business without spending a lot of money to grow the business.
Dr. Raphael Karuaihe from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) gave a brief introduction into the tools and models that the JSE provides to help farmers sell their produce or stock. The JSE also hosted its own workshop at Alfa, which explained the role that the JSE plays in the agricultural industry. Eddie Prinsloo, a Freestate farmer gave a presentation on his Esther project. This project aims to graduate farm workers to farmers and business persons. The business model will entail shared operations, decision making, profit sharing and the transferring of skills.

In the fourth session, Dr. John Purchase from Agbiz spoke on the development in the agribusiness sector. Purchase highlighted the need to develop agriculture and various factors that can help drive growth in the industry. Alongside Dr. Purchase was Yogis Saman from Frontier Solutions who spoke on transformation strategies that position the future of businesses as sustainable economic leaders. Saman also mentioned that communal areas have the opportunity to create growth in the agricultural sector, which will in turn help transform the industry. Saman went on to second Dr. Reuel Khoza’s discussion about the industry standing up as one to ensure that there is real change in the community and change for farmers.

In the final FEAD session that was held on the last day of Alfa 2018, Dr. Theo de Jager, President of the World Farmers Organisation (WFO) held a panel discussion about agriculture development in Africa. The panel included different stakeholders from around South Africa and Africa. Dr. De Jager highlighted that Africa has untapped potential to become the biggest agricultural hub in the world. “Proper governance is the one thing that can unlock the potential of agriculture,” said De Jager. He went on to say that the reason why most investments in Africa collapse is because these deals lack a partnership agreement. “In order for investment to be a success, partnerships need to be made with communities.” He ended his presentation with words of encouragement for farmers, stakeholders and Africa as a whole.

Watch the panel discussion of Dr. Theo de Jager and his panellists below:

Search the hashtag #ALFA2018 on Twitter to follow what went on at Alfa this year. – Ntswaki Motaung, Farmbiz