Staff Reporter –
The Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has taken its bid to forge partnership between the government and the private sector a step further by courting farming giant, Senwes.
The latest efforts saw DARD meeting with Senwes management at the company’s head office in Klerksdorp on Wednesday before being taken on a tour of the huge grain storage facility in the farming town of Viljoenskroon.
“We have had a very successful meeting with Senwes in Klerksdorp for the purposes of fostering strategic partnerships aimed at ensuring that we protect the agriculture sector, contribute to job creation, economic growth as well as transformation of the sector. We came to the realisation that, as a department, we need the private sector to hold hands so as to ensure that we achieve the strategic intent and objective of the sector,” said the Deputy Director General (DDG) in the department, Mmuso Tsoametsi.
According to the DDG, they chose Senwes because the company is a critical stakeholder with a big footprint in the agricultural sector. He added that the partnership focuses on such issues as capacity building through training and development.
“We had a very successful meeting with the CEO and management of Senwes and we all agreed that partnership is the way to go. This will take the form of training and development for farmworkers, farmers, opening opportunities for smallholder black farmers and ensuring that the infrastructure that Senwes has, can be accessed by our extension officers so that the knowledge and skills can easily flow between us as partners in the sector,” Tsoametsi said.
If signed, the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between DARD and Senwes is expected to be implemented with effect from 01 April 2019. According to Tsoametsi, the partnership is mutually beneficial to the parties involved.
“This is a win-win partnership. Under this arrangement, smallholder black farmers will be able to access and benefit from the facilities such as silos that Senwes has at its disposal but this will not be a free service because the company is in business. It is an arrangement that is affordable for the government as well as our farmers.”
Senwes Group Chief Executive Officer, Francois Strydom said his company is committed to contribute towards growing the country’s economic fortunes.
“The country is our passion and agriculture is also our passion, that means we have a common vision,” Strydom said.
Some of the trainings that Senwes is likely to offer to farmers include crop planting, advice on the different types of seeds, mechanisation, financial management as well as coming up with an insurance product for farmers to protect their crops and assets from loss.
The silos at Viljoenskroon are made up of 20 big and four small bins with a total carrying capacity of 120 000 tonnes of grain. The silos are currently full with white maize and a bit of soya beans as well as yellow maize.
Senwes operates several silos, the bulk of them in Free State while some are in the North West, Gauteng and Northern Cape. Established in 1909, the company’s business includes providing input products for farming, market access for grain produce, as well as financial, technical and logistical services to grain producers.