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SACAU: Forthcoming 2016 Annual General Meeting, Swaziland 23-26 May 2016

The SACAU Annual General Meeting will take place from 23 to 24 May in Mbabane, Swaziland.

The conference, which will bring together regional farmers’ organization (FOs) leaders, policy makers, FOs chief executives, policy makers and young farmers, will be aimed at sharing practical and expertise experiences. It will explore how the nexus between technology and youth can be harnessed to drive agricultural transformation in the region. Technology will be considered at its entirety.  

Specifically, the conference will: (i) Seek to envision the future of agriculture and need for new generation of farmers and farmers’ organization; (ii) Expose farmers to current cutting urge technologies that are likely to change the future outlook of agriculture globally and in Africa; (iii) Discuss options of making agriculture attractive by professionalizing and certifying producers and intensifying commercialization of the sector; (iv) Identify potential business models that young farmers could be engaged in the future for the transformation of the sector.

The conference will be structured into five sessions as follows:

Session I: Scene Setting. It is evident that agriculture practices are rapidly changing and for Africa to remain competitive, farmers have no choice but to embrace the change. Application of ICT for improving efficiency and mitigating risks is slowly becoming irreplaceable. The session will present how ICT will play a vital role for African agriculture to remain profitable and competitive. Arguments that future agriculture will mainly be driven by intelligent use of data and information, application of digital technology, efficiency utilization of appropriate machinery, adoption of new business models, rapid response to unpredictable weather and climate change and institution of new generation of farmers’ organization. What is the role of today’s youth amidst all this?

Session II: What is keeping the youths out of agriculture? This session will be informative where delegates will be exposed to current cutting urge technologies that are likely to change the future outlook of agriculture globally and in Africa. The session will provide evidence that advanced technology in agriculture will be a friend of a future farmer and that African farmers need to prepare for the soon coming technology revolution in the sector, otherwise will be left behind. The issues of its practicability and affordability to African farming which is predominated by small scale farming systems will be discussed. Among other questions to be addressed are: Will Africa farmers need alternative financing to access the technologies? Will Africa need special policies and regulations for the technologies? How should FOs prepare for such a revolution?

Session III: Professionalization of farmers in the region. Farming in Africa is regarded as a lowly, back-breaking, unglamorous, dirty job that uses rudimentary equipment with very meagre revenue. Agricultural producers (farmers) are mostly ranked low in the society and are considered as uneducated or uncivilized in some cycles. Consequently, there is less pride and dignity in farming to the people practicing it. This low regard for farming is reinforced in society to an extent that sometimes farmers advise their children to study hard in school to escape from being farmers. Consequently, many schoolchildren dream of becoming doctors, engineers or lawyers, but seldom to be farmers. These perceptions make young people reluctant to be associated with the sector and only join it when all other options fail. The session will discuss options of making agriculture attractive by professionalizing and certifying producers and intensifying commercialization of the sector. Among the questions to be addressed are: What can it take to improve the negative image of agriculture? Can agriculture be made a career of first choice to the youth as is the case with other careers? What are the realities to be encountered for this to happen?    

Session IV: Youth and Factors of production. Accessing production and operational capital by the youth is much difficult than their elderly counterparts. This is basically due to among other things, lack of credit record and assets for collateral. Worse still, government funds dedicated to finance youth intervention prefer to support artisanal enterprises and small trading businesses than farming. For any youth with serous ambitions to start serious farming ventures, this becomes a very big hindrance. The situation might not be different in the near future. This session will look at new financing and ownership options of factors of production that can be developed or up scaled. 

Session IV: SACAU Youth Program. A number of factors (economic, social, political etc.) are responsible for the limited participation of youth in the agriculture sector. The factors can be classified into two broad areas: (i) factors that hinder young people to take agriculture as a career of choice and (ii) those that hinder practicing young farmers to progress in their farming careers. This program endeavours to bring together different stakeholders from the private and public sectors to address problems encountered by the youth.  The interventions will be across the entire value chain and not only primary production. Professionalization and application of advanced technology will be key in the implementation of the program.

The SACAU's Annual General Meeting will be supported by SFOAP, the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) and We Effect. 

Please also visit SACAU's website.

from 19/05/2016 to
Thematic Areas: Access to Services, Capacity Building, Gender, Knowledge Management, Markets and Value chains, Monitoring and Evaluation, Natural resources, Policy Dialogue
Region: South Africa
Countries: Swaziland