African leaders must reaffirm commitment to investments in agriculture

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 June 2014

AFW2Several leading agricultural organisations and suppliers have added their weight to this year’s African Farmers Workshop and Expo (AFWE), which takes place from 12 to 14 August 2014 at the Johannesburg Expo Centre.

Support for the three-day farming expo is on the rise, with expanding interest from the broad agri-sector, as well as buy-in from various non-governmental organisations.

One of these is the Black African Young Farmers Association (BAYOFA), which aims to increase recognition of young black farmers as key players in this sector.

BAYOFA is a leading voice for advocating sustainable youth-run agricultural businesses, which can meet the demands of an ever-growing market for quality agricultural products and services.

“BAYOFA sees the African Farmers Workshop and Expo as an essential platform for stakeholders to address issues affecting ordinary farmers, and furthering much-needed transformation in the sector,” says CEO Poiho Ramotlatsi.

AFW3“Through AFWE, we want to encourage agricultural development and food security by forming partnerships with companies and industry role players interested in assisting farmers to gain access to markets. We will be hosting workshops at the AFWE event that explore these objectives, and also focus on issues affecting small-scale farmers.”

International advocacy group ONE is also fully behind AFWE this year, as a partner in the AgriYouth Indaba.

ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organisation dedicated to ending extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa.

The AgriYouth Indaba focuses on empowerment, while challenging and supporting young people in agriculture.

“Our main aim is to raise awareness in the agricultural sector that 2014 is the African Union’s Year of Agriculture and Food Security,” says Dr Sipho Moyo, director of ONE Campaign.

“People need to know that agriculture plays an important role in Africa’s development; and African leaders need to reaffirm their commitments to the 2003 Maputo Declaration and increase investments in agriculture.”

“To ensure Africa sees an agricultural revolution in 2014, ONE is launching its ‘Do Agric’ campaign, calling on AU leaders to commit to policy reforms and investments in agriculture, specifically smallholder farmers, and lift 85 million people out of extreme poverty by 2023,” explains Moyo.

Helping emerging farmers fertilise their soil

National mineral research organisation – Mintek is a sponsor of this year’s show once again.

“One of the big benefits of last year’s expo was the exposure we received,” says Magaret Segole, Marketing Assistant at Mintek.

AFW1“Our services were largely unknown to the outside community, but through AFWE, we brought our offering to the people in the industry, especially small farmers. This year we hope to create relationships with more stakeholders, showcase our services and foster more business in the industry.”

Many small-scale farmers cannot afford fertilisers, mainly due to the cost of transporting it. However, in nature, many indigenous rocks contain trace elements and minerals beneficial to plant growth.

Mintek examine the rocks found in different areas, and if these are useful and sustainable, Mintek assists the local people to set up small processing plants.

Education for emerging farmers

Zoetis, the world’s first independent animal health company, will again make a strong showing at AFWE as a sponsor and exhibitor. Zoetis will present various educational workshops to farmers.

Llewellyn Sinclair, Group Marketing and Technical Manager at Zoetis, says the company will present three workshop slots per day focussing on three major species; cattle and sheep, pigs, and poultry. In this way visitors can choose the workshop that benefits them most.

“We need to look after our farmers,” explains Sinclair. “Education is a key challenge preventing Africa from becoming the bread basket it should be. There is a severe knowledge gap – and Zoetis can assist in filling this,” says Sinclair.

Sponsors for this year’s show include: Ithala, Masisizane Fund, Massmart, Mintek, Omnia, Standard Bank, University of Limpopo and Zoetis.

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