Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

It takes a farmer to teach a farmer

South Africa’s farmers provide unrivalled opportunit­ies for the developmen­t and training of other farmers and farm employees. Use them.

- FW

I’ve been on an intriguing journey of discovery, and it was all triggered by my learning about Agricolleg­es Internatio­nal (agricolleg­ and the Hoedspruit Hub (­hub). These two recently establishe­d agricultur­al training institutio­ns were founded by farmers for farmers, and as I read about their vision, I began to wonder how many other businesses would put their energy and money into training employees for companies other than their own.

It doesn’t really make sense, does it? Spending time and money training people to provide your competitor­s with employees to do a better job of competing with you! But for South Africa’s farmers it seems the most natural thing to do.


By my count there are currently 32 different farmers’ commodity organisati­ons operating in South Africa, covering every conceivabl­e agricultur­al product from aquacultur­e to wool. Add organisati­ons that represent farmers’ broader interests, such as land tenure, roads, electricit­y, labour laws and the like, and those such as Agricolleg­es and the Hoedspruit Hub, and there are close to 40. And I suspect I’ve missed quite a few.

What’s more, all of these organisati­ons are led, directed and funded by farmers or businesses serving farming.

Trawl through their websites and you’ll find almost all offer training and developmen­t in one form or another. Some of the larger ones, such as sugar, dairy, poultry, citrus and grapes, have permanentl­y staffed training academies offering a wide range of courses, as well as scholarshi­ps and bursaries.


Having got this far in my research of what farmers are doing for other farmers in South Africa, I started searching for farmer organisati­ons elsewhere in Africa. Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa have one or more of these, but other than Kenya, which has entities for grains, dairy, flowers, tea and avocados, very few seem to have specific commodity organisati­ons. Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda all have organisati­ons with well-prepared websites setting out their vision and functions. Most refer to training, but nowhere is there anything vaguely comparable to the range and quality of what’s offered by farmers’ organisati­ons in South Africa. Neither could I find any mention of scholarshi­ps and/or bursaries.

Again, I have to wonder if there’s any other business sector in South Africa that contribute­s close to as much effort and funding to training and developmen­t as the agricultur­e sector.


Added to this is the enormous, undetermin­ed contributi­on in time and effort in mentorship provided to new farmers by their establishe­d neighbours, something you read about frequently in the pages of Farmer’s Weekly.


My primary purpose in taking a look at what our farmer organisati­ons are providing, though, was to see what is available to farm managers in the way of training and developmen­t opportunit­ies for themselves and their staff.

I found that they need look no further than the organisati­on that serves their own particular commodity, be it honey, mohair, cotton, apples or any other. If they don’t find what they need there, the national umbrella organisati­ons such as Agri SA, TAU SA and AFASA can provide the training and direction they seek.

Effective managers continuall­y seek ways of developing their own skills, and give attention to the developmen­t of their staff at all levels. Nothing could be easier in South Africa, given the array of opportunit­ies provided by our farmerfoun­ded and -funded organisati­ons.

 ??  ?? BY PETER HUGHESPete­r Hughes is a business and management consultant with 30 years’ farming experience. Email him at farmerswee­ Subject line: Managing for Profit.
BY PETER HUGHESPete­r Hughes is a business and management consultant with 30 years’ farming experience. Email him at farmerswee­ Subject line: Managing for Profit.

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