News from SACAU annual conference and AGM

SACAU held its annual conference themed “Envisioning Future Farming Skills” from 24th to 25th May in Cape Town, South Africa.

The conference was organised against the background that agriculture in general and, farming skills in particular, have become increasingly complex and demanding, thus pointing to the need for aligning skills, competencies and capabilities with the future of agriculture.

The conference was officially opened by Mr Michael Mlengana, the Director-General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of the Republic of South Africa in the presence of 86 delegates from Farmers’ Organisations (FOs), young farmers, private sector, government, academia, cooperating partners and research institutions.

Various speakers presented on perspectives on the future of agriculture and farming; what is wrong with the current advisory services; the farmer of the future – what key areas of skills, capabilities and other competencies will be needed in the future; innovations and approaches for future farmers; competence innovation and delivery mechanism for innovations. These were discussed in panel and plenary discussions. Some of the highlights of the presentations and discussions were that future agriculture will be characterised by complex systems that are data-driven, knowledge-intensive, highly modernised and long integrated value chains. It was also said that investments in energy, infrastructure, water and skills development will be key in driving agricultural transformation in the continent. This agricultural transformation will require a shift of focus from primary production to a value chain approach.

Concerns were raised about African farming structures not changing fast enough to trigger agricultural transformation. It was stated that the educational process would need to change to meet the needs of a future agriculture. The need for exposure for future farmers to drive the agricultural transformation agenda was also stressed.  

Key messages from the conference deliberations were developed and subsequently adopted by SACAU’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) which was held immediately after the conference. These are around the involvement of FOs in reviewing and development of curricula; scaling up successful advisory/extension approaches or models; leveraging Information and Communications Technology in delivery of advisory services; supporting farmers to acquire knowledge; building a body of knowledge on professionalisation of farming; harnessing existing assets within FOs structures for capacity development; continued support to young agripreneurs, and organising farmers.

During the AGM, SACAU ensured the renewal of members of the board, as an annual governance practice. Mrs Jane Ngulube from the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM) and Mr Berean Mukwende from the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) step down. Mr Mukwende was re-elected as Ordinary Board member. Dr Sinare Sinare from the Agricultural Council of Tanzania was elevated to become the new Vice President, a position formally held by Mrs Ngulube. In a two-horse race, Mr Alfred Kapichiri Banda from Farmers Union of Malawi, was elected to serve for the first time as an Ordinary Board member. Dr Theo de Jager remains the Board Chairman.

Several resolutions were further adopted by members during the AGM Meeting including the  the re-appointment of external auditors; the cessation of membership of Botswana Agricultural Union (BAU); the admission of Fikambanana Fampivoarana ny Tantsaha (FIFATA) of Madagascar as a full member and Botswana Farmers Association (BFA) initially on an observer status.

The AGM also resolved that the current members of SACAU’s Young Farmers’ Platform become the organisation’s young farmer ambassadors. They will serve for a term of three years, thus allowing for the development of a nucleus of experienced young farmers.

Finally, Zimbabwe will host the 2018 AGM.

To learn more, please download here the May 2017 edition of SACAU Newsletter.


Photo credit: SACAU

from 24/05/2017 to 26/05/2017
Thematic Areas: Strategic planning / Communication
Region: South Africa