THE BLOG
31/01/2018 13:38 SAST | Updated 31/01/2018 14:37 SAST

Dear Cyril, Let's Talk About Land For A Minute

We all need to contribute to a future in which land, skills and community needs, as well as food security, will meet and prosper.

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Open letter to ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa:

Dear Mr President,

I read with interest your speech earlier this month (given in Eastern Cape on January 8). My particular fields of interest are education and agriculture, and I was encouraged by many of your comments related to these areas of discussion. I am the founder and CEO of the accredited, cloud-based, tertiary-education institution Agricolleges International.

I agree completely with your views that "there has also not been a sufficient link between the return of land and the provision of support to beneficiaries", and I am heartened by your view that future land restitution will "promote economic development, agricultural production and food security".

Similarly, when it comes to building skills in the field of agriculture, it is reassuring that you intend to "pursue the enormous potential of agriculture to promote industrialisation to create employment, which will help transform our economy" by modernising agricultural production and developing a substantial pool of skills in this area.

I am in full agreement that achieving this would have a profound effect on the sustainability of rural communities and add hugely to the food security of our country as well as that of countries north of our borders.

The critical weak link, I believe, is in the delivery and implementation of such skills. How does the ANC propose to deliver on these progressive and hugely important goals? As a businessman, farmer and the founder of our new online agricultural college, I believe that the answer lies in the use of technology to grow agricultural skills through online, blended-learning and shared-learning opportunities.

As traditional bricks-and-mortar models of tertiary education shrink across the globe, we need to look at a future in which online learning can provide the necessary skills to a vastly expanded number of students – and thanks to the scalability of the online model, this can also be done at considerably reduced costs.

We (at Agricolleges) fully support the concept of transformation and the need to shift skills and information from large-scale commercial farmers to smaller, emerging farmers across the continent.

Our own experience of becoming an accredited body with AgriSeta has been a positive one and confirms that the online-learning model is the way of the future.

This is the fastest way for the African continent to improve agricultural skills and reduce food shortages, as populations continue to balloon and political pressure mounts to find a solution.

50 percent of all the people of Africa now live in urban environments. Our team is focusing on the development of production opportunities, no matter how small, from these urban smallholdings.

We at Agricolleges fully support the concept of transformation and the need to shift skills and information from large-scale commercial farmers to smaller, emerging farmers across the continent.

Watching great tracts of land continue to stand idle and go to waste in the province of Limpopo, where I live and farm, is one of the great tragedies of a land-restitution policy which has not worked in the past.

I am abundantly confident that our institution will significantly contribute to a future in which land, skills and community needs, as well as food security – and thereby political stability – will meet and prosper.