AFASA talks growth and funding at annual conference

The theme of this year’s conference was Farmers growing South Africa: Creating jobs and trade opportunities. Among the key Speakers was Minister of Agriculture Hon Thoko Didiza who spoke passionately about the need for the agriculture sector to embrace the changing times and think innovatively by using technological advancements to their advantage. She listened to the questions and concerns of the farmers in attendance and offered her commitment to working together with them to tackle the problems currently facing the sector.

Other speakers included Chairman of the Motsepe Foundation Dr Patrice Motsepe whose keynote address on the first day of the conference became one of the major talking points to come out of the three-day conference. Motsepe spoke of plans to establish a multi-billion fund with the aim of helping developing farmers especially, to grow their trade and increase their production. “The farming sector is at a very critical stage and it is important for us to ensure the participation of black farmers. There is a huge sense of urgency to make sure we have sustainable black farmers in the industry.” Motsepe said. Speaker after speaker, including Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation David Mahlobo reiterated Motsepe’s sentiments that access to funding is one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of black-owned farming enterprises performing at their optimum level. Motsepe also challenged AFASA and other key stakeholders in the agri business sphere to collaborate with the Motsepe foundation to bring this fund to life.

The was a mood of celebration throughout the conference with farmers reflecting on the growth of their individual businesses as well as acknowledging successes of the black farming sector. AFASA president Dr Vuyo Mahlati gave out special recognition awards at the Presidential Gala Dinner to farmers who are performing excellently in their respective fields.  At the end of the three-day conference, farmers where left with a sense of hope that things may change for the better as every government official spoke promisingly about a commitment from government to support and advance agriculture in the South Africa for the good of all those who live in it.