Entrepreneurial spirit is a mind-set. It’s an approach to life, an everyday decision to do better, push harder and achieve more.
Agriculture and food security play an important role in our society. There are plenty of opportunities within these sectors for our country to grow and further develop.
The access to food to is the constitutional right of all South Africans and although at the national level SA is a food secure nation, at the level of households the picture is very different. Stats SA suggests that around 35% of the total population are currently vulnerable to food insecurity. Women, children and the elderly are the most vulnerable with 1, 5 million children under the age of 6 years being malnourished and therefore stunted because of lack of proper nutrition. These are the statistics from stats SA: Measuring poverty in SA, 2000
The problem is not that South Africa cannot provide food, but the access at the household level is the problem. (KZN, NP, EC and Free State are the worst affected provinces) The movement of male labour to urban areas has resulted in the erosion of the fundamentally agrarian existence of Black African and a subsequent increased reliance on non-farm and non-rural incomes. Purchased food as opposed to own-produced food leaves households exposed to price fluctuations and given that the poor spend more than 50% of their income on food- this has a devastating impact. Poverty and food-insecurity go hand-in-hand in a devastating self-perpetuating cycle.
The chronic lack of food security experienced by more than a third of the country’s population highlights the severe inequalities in SA’s society and impacts on the current and future stability of the nation. At the household level food insecurity leads to disproportionately high health and medical costs, high funeral expenses, poor educational development and performance and a low labour productivity.
The current food insecurity in South Africa is not a result of large-scale commercial farming, the emphasis must be on strengthening small-scale farming and community food gardening programmes and most importantly should provide the opportunity for these initiatives to generate income to supplement household food provision. Access to agricultural support services remains the major factor constraining the growth of small holder agriculture in South Africa and unless a farmer support programme of appropriate scale and scope are put in place, smallholder farmers will have little chance of escaping poverty. In terms of current best practice for addressing food insecurity, it is clear that programmes must invest in training for small-scale producers, most critically by providing entrepreneurial expertise. In this way rural food gardeners will be able to be linked to the economic mainstream.
South Africa is well known of its youthful population and whilst there are concerns over its large demographic dividend I am of the strong opinion that as much as it presents challenges, it also presents a variety of opportunities. Agriculture is also a niche where young people should be crucial role players. The sector is currently contributes 12% to the GDP, whilst these are good figures there is still room for growth and part of the growth could be attained by stimulating participation of the youthful workforce as most farmers in SA are usually above 60 years of age and young people can incorporate innovation and technology to stimulate growth in this sector.
There are a variety of issues that need to be addressed in order to help the development of the field and stimulate youth participation in agriculture. One of many factors that give rise to the poor interest in this field is the country’s youth. The generalization of the ‘youth’ demographic. Attitudes of young people towards agriculture vary extensively and some of the distinguishing factors are largely geographic location and land ownership.
Campaigns are essential they are designed to stimulate interest or raise awareness to the positive prospects of agriculture, there is a crucial need to segment the ‘youth’ so the right message can be conveyed to the right audience. The media which has become the main source to transpire information can be used to raise awareness of the opportunities that exist in the agricultural sector. We also need to have testimonials of successful black farmers. The reason for this is to showing aspiring agriculturists that it is possible to attain success in the road less travelled Social media can be a tool used to promote agriculture if used effectively. It can also harm the way people view agriculture.
Funding is an important element. Many young aspiring people who intend to study agriculture lack the necessary funds to kick start their careers. Institutions that can assist with funding need to promote their services better so that more people can utilize their services. The funding requirements should also be streamlined to suit the profile of most young people who don’t have a collateral. Subsistence farmers in rural communities are usually the point of reference for most black South Africans who have little or no exposure to agriculture or successful black farmers and the picture of the plight of most black rural farmers is not a very positive one. It is very important that small scale farmers especially those in rural areas have access to capital, skills training and resources to be able to better develop their skills, generate some income from their operations and also play a significant role in job creation. There is a great need of emphasis to be invested in making information easily accessible in schools, libraries and local municipalities. The information given out must be in a language that the youth can comprehend.
Career guidance is of utmost importance. Pupils need to be guided in making decisions in terms of career choice and agriculture is no exception. The poor promotion of agriculture in schools has led to a poor interest in the subject.
I believe the situation can be improved by holding career expos in rural and urban settings to promote agriculture as a study unit. Pupils need to see the beauty of the field and how it contributes to the development of the country.
The role of agriculture in South Africa remains a relatively important sector despite its small contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP). Agriculture creates jobs, especially in the rural areas and it is a foremost earner of foreign exchange.
Agriculture’s prominent indirect role in the economy is a result of backward and forward linkages with other sectors. Purchases of intermediate goods and services form backward linkages with the manufacturing sector, while forward linkages are established through the supply of raw materials to industry.