‘Get into gear’ says former DG

It is time to stop regurgitating the same issues and start doing something about them.

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This comment was made by former director general of SA’s ­Department of Agriculture Bongiwe Njobe on 15 June, during the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa’s (Fara’s) general assembly at the Sandton Convention Centre in Gauteng. Njobe, who is currently director of corporate affairs at SAB, attended a ­session with the theme: “Africa’s capacity to build human and institutional capacity for the agricultural industry.”

She said she had been out of ­agriculture for two years and expressed her disappointment at the lack of progress. “This forum must go from being a talk shop and move into action.  “University trainees don’t have the necessary skills. There needs to be better collaboration between the private sector and universities to ensure that graduates fit the workplace,” Njobe elaborated.

Fara is an umbrella organisation ­bringing together and forming coalitions of major stakeholders in agricultural research and development in Africa. It meets once every two years and gives stakeholders, like farmers and scientists, an ­opportunity to interact with each other.

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It also gives donors of financial institutions, like Frank S. Kufakwandi, resident representative for the African Development Bank, the opportunity to see how they can help to increase the capacities of the continent. “This gives the ­opportunity for very open discussions.”

Kufakwandi believes Fara is ­achieving it’s goals, but said it was time to move to action. “The only problem is how do we measure improvement?” He also said Fara needed to focus more on the issue of funding and mobilising resources in future. “While outside donors are critical, ­Africans must also look within their own ­countries for funding.” – Susan Botes