Sipamandla Mpikeleli 

Rural Development Manager, External Affairs Division, SASA.

A senior delegation from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) recently visited the South African Sugar Association (SASA) to learn more about the sugar industry’s efforts aimed at supporting small-scale and land reform growers.

Above: Shukela Training Centre Technical Training Manager Ray van Heerden explaining some courses offered by the centre.

SASA shared with DAFF officials, led by Bonga Msomi (Chief Director: National Extension Support Services), the support services offered by the association to land reform and smallholder growers through funding entity services (Umthombo), extension services (South African Sugarcane Research Institute - SASRI), training and capacity building (Shukela Training Centre - STC), and governance support to land reform growers.

The one-day visit saw DAFF officials being addressed by SASA representatives from Umthombo, Rural Development and Land Reform, SASRI and STC. After the presentations in the morning, the officials embarked on the tour of SASRI and STC. DAFF officials were highly impressed with the Extension Venture Agreement (EVA) model between SASA and the Department Agriculture and Rural Development, support services and the training programmes provided by the industry.

They said they would invite the industry to share the successes of the EVA model as part of the national extension conference scheduled for August this year. It was further agreed that follow-up meetings would be held with the sector of education and training division to engage on potential partnerships with the STC on skills development initiatives for small-scale and land reform growers.

“DAFF appreciated the exposure to a comprehensive support services provided by SASA and its institutes which spans from research, extension, training, finance and more. The model provided a useful case study for replication through the draft policy on Comprehensive Producer Development Support. Areas for further collaboration identified are in the secondment of the Extension Practitioners, placement of graduates, and vocational training,” said Msomi.