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“South Africa’s young farmers are not only the future of the agricultural industry, but also the key role players in ensuring food security”, says Francois Wilken, President of Free State Agriculture (FSA).
Our country’s young farmers face a unique combination of challenges. Radically changing conditions in the world will increasingly challenge them to produce food more efficiently and competitively. This, while local conditions also confront young farmers with socio-political realities that directly affect them. “It is therefore important to involve young farmers actively within agricultural structures so that their voice can also be heard”, says Wilken.
Young farmers are usually the group that introduces new ideas and production methods to the agricultural industry. Within FSA, a Young Farmer Committee has specifically been established for this reason in order to create a platform where new thinking and proposals can be introduced to the entire organization. “Future leadership capacity is also built through the young farmer network”, says Wilken.
Rudo Opperman, chairman of the FSA Young Farmer Committee, says they are actively involved in the structures of organized agriculture and focus especially on the following projects:
– Schools project – to make pupils and students aware of organized agriculture.
– To involve Young Farmers in every FSA farmers’ association.
– Identification and evaluation of the Young Farmer of the Year competition.
– Identify and discuss relevant issues during the annual FSA Young Farmer Conference.
As part of the organization’s youth month initiative, FSA’s Young Farmer Committee will partake in a meeting with the Free State MEC for Agriculture on 24 June. The following main challenges will be tabled: Infrastructure challenges; access to finance and policy uncertainty.
Free State Agriculture’s annual congress in the first week of August, also plans a special discussion on young farmer empowerment through development of ground level structures to stimulate young farmer involvement.