The 24th Annual KZN Agricultural Union, Kwanalu Congress, took place on Thursday, 14 September 2023 at the Pietermaritzburg Royal Agricultural Showgrounds, bringing together influential voices in the political, economic, rural and agriculture sectors to provide invaluable insights into the current and future prospects in the industry.
Affiliates from throughout KZN, convened in Pietermaritzburg for a full day of presentations and discussions centred on the Union’s theme: Kwanalu speaks farmer, Kwanalu speaks member, Kwanalu speaks agricultural and rural matters.
With the intention of paving a way forward in the current difficult agricultural and rural landscape, political and economic specialists outlined the prospectus for the future of the sector. Kwanalu’s adoption of resolutions for the year ahead were also presented by Kwanalu board member, Dr. Kathy Hurly.
“Increasing challenges to KZN’s agricultural sector have meant that there are many issues that require urgent attention. Our members identified focus areas in a recent survey and outlined specific priorities within these focus areas that need to be addressed. It has never been more pertinent to ensure that there is the utmost clarity and agreement on how we can best serve the interests of our members. Their input will form the basis of Kwanalu’s strategic focus areas for the year ahead,” said Kwanalu CEO, Sandy La Marque.
Keynote speaker and renowned political and policy specialist, strategic facilitator, and scenario expert, Theo Venter, kicked off the event with a comprehensive overview of the South African political and governance environment. Drawing on his extensive experience, Venter provided a deep dive into the nuances of the nation’s political landscape, offering attendees a contemplative analysis of potential future trajectories and the influences that are poised to shape decision-making processes.
“We are dealing with extraordinary times as we have a very specific nexus of problems, one being much ambiguity, and in a world governed by ambiguity, it’s harder to prepare for the future. However, it is possible with the right mindset, and this starts with a focused plan addressing the problems in local government, infrastructure, service delivery and crime,” said Venter.
Dr. Mmatlou Kalaba, an esteemed figure in the field of agricultural economics, and associated with the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), led a compelling session on the South African Agricultural and Rural Economy. With a Ph.D. in Commodity Markets and Foresights, Dr. Kalaba was uniquely positioned to provide attendees with an economic overview of the agricultural sector, shedding light on potential influences that will impact decision-making in the years to come.
“The economy is under pressure and the next few years are likely to be tough. This is the current scenario, but with effort, it can be turned around. Yields are expected to increase and, if government are able to play their role in providing access to new markets internationally, the industry will assist in economic growth and provide hope for the unemployed youth,” said Kalaba.
The announcement of the Kwanalu Young Farmer of the Year 2023 also took place with the title being awarded to 28-year-old timber, maize, soy bean and free range cattle farmer from Lüneburg, Heiko Gevers. Gevers will go on to compete in the Toyota SA/ Agri SA National Young Farmer of the Year competition 2023 held later this year.
“Heiko embodies the spirit of innovation, community support, and sustainable farming that the KZN Kwanalu Young Farmer of the Year represents, making him a true champion for the agricultural industry,” said La Marque.
The KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, Kwanalu, is a representative organization and voice of the rural and agricultural sectors in the province. It’s viewpoints are based on submissions from its members and it is committed to a sustainable and profitable future for the Rural and Agricultural sectors within KwaZulu-Natal and greater South Africa.
For more information on Kwanalu, visit www.kwanalu.co.za or call 033 342 9393.