Sustainable economic growth through public-private partnership was one of the hot topics of the week at #Nampo2019. From left is Nick Binedell, John Purchase, Rudi Dicks, Langa Simela and Jannie de Villiers.

The annual Nation in Conversation series hosted during the 2019 Nampo Harvest Day, highlighted the topics that the agricultural community is currently conversing about. On day one, 14 May, Yolandé Roodt and Michelle Verster of Plaas Media attended the live sessions broadcast at #Nampo2019. Session one focussed on ‘Public-private partnerships towards sustainable economic growth’ and session two on post-election political perspectives.

Sustainable economic growth

The anchor of session one was Nick Binedell, founding director and Sasol Chair of Strategic Management at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. The panel members where John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz, Rudi Dicks, outcomes facilitator for economy and inclusive growth at the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Langa Simela, business development manager at ABSA, and Jannie de Villiers, CEO of Grain SA.

The panel focussed on the fact that agricultural GDP has to grow from the current 2,5% to 10%, over the next ten years. The focus of the discussion was: Where do we go from here?

Rudi Dicks discussed government’s Public Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) initiative. He said that it is unique in the sense that this initiative comes directly from the president. What also makes it different from previous ones, is that it is not a once-off event, but rather a long-term partnership that includes accountability – a factor that was missing from previous initiatives.

Bridges must be built

Jannie de Villiers said that all parties involved – government, the private sector and agriculture – must realise sooner rather than later, that they all need each other for this partnership to work. “We need to build the bridge together,” he said. “Issues and obstacles must be resolved by all involved and government must help with access to finance. Agricultural skills, training and education is lagging,” he said. He also emphasised that low job levels must improve, and that more jobs need to be created in agricultural industry.

John Purchase also expressed his support for the above initiative. For it to work, he said, there must be a real change in attitude from all parties. He too emphasised that the lack of finance in the developing farming sector, must be resolved. “Farming in rural areas must be more focused. Policies and finance must be in place to support developing farmers. Government, financial institutions and the agricultural sector needs to work together to ensure country food security.”

Agriculture itself must take the lead

Langa Simela closed the discussion, stating that agriculture needs to lead agricultural development. According to her it is the responsibility of the various agricultural bodies and institutions to advise and guide government and the private sector. Their aim should be to successfully tie public-private partnerships together for sustainable economic growth. To watch the full discussion, see the video below.

Post-election political perspectives

The results of the recent election were naturally a topic of great importance at #Nampo2019. Listening to the panel it was evident that land reform remains prominent in the minds of South Africans, as well as the panel members during session two of Nation in Conversation. The panel was made up of Roelf Meyer, director of the In Transformation Initiative, Konanani Liphatzi, CEO of Fruit South Africa, Theo Venter, political analyst at the North West University, and Chris Burgess, editor-in-chief of Landbouweekblad.

The session focused on post-election political perspectives and how the election results will ultimately influence the agricultural sector. The panel members were all in agreement that land reform is the first issue that needs to be addressed. The panel regarded the PPGI, discussed in the previous session, as a possible solution that could lead to land reform issues becoming a thing of the past.

“Resolve land reform, ensure access to markets and adequate support, include more young people and women in the sector, and in five years we’ll see growth and inclusiveness,” said Konanani Liphatzi.

Government’s role in biosecurity

Other issues that were addressed were the fact that government should play a more pivotal role when it comes to diseases affecting the agricultural industry. The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) earlier this year, had an enormous impact on farmers in the meat and wool industry. It is a good example of cases in which government plays a vital role in ensuring stability in the agricultural industry. The panel concluded that even after the elections, there is still light at the end of the agricultural tunnel. To watch session two of day one click here.Michelle Verster and Yolandé Roodt, AgriOrbit