Bigen partners with new Agricultural Development Agency to drive agricultural development and transformation

Leona Archary from Bigen’s Agriculture directorate, played a key role at the Africa Agri Tech conference on 18 February 2020, officiating as MC at the launch of the Agricultural Development Agency (AGDA). 

Bigen has teamed up as a founding partner with the newly launched Agricultural Development Agency (AGDA) which plans to drive agricultural development and support successful land reform in South Africa. In particular, it will equip black emerging farmers with technical skills, facilitate their inclusion in supply chains and secure private-sector support for them.

The launch of AGDA, represents a significant positive step forward, both in the South African agricultural industry and the government’s land reform process. A nonprofit initiative championed by In Transformation Initiative director Roelf Meyer, AGDA forms part of the Public-Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) within the Presidency. AGDA’s original 36 founding members include commercial and small-scale farmers and agribusinesses and many more have come forward on the launch day to commit as founding members.

Through intensive engagement with emerging and small-scale farmers, as well as commercial farmers and government departments. AGDA formulated its mandate before its official launch. Prospective farmers wanting to enter the commercial space were also consulted. Only a limited number of black farmers have achieved commercialisation so far and AGDA will help to address the barriers identified – lack of capacity and inability to access affordable capital – through the mobilisation of skills, expertise and funds from various sector partners.

“By September, AGDA expects to be fully operational, with funds being raised, a board elected and the right expertise in place,” says Leona Archary, from Bigen’s Agriculture directorate, who officiated as MC at the launch of AGDA during the Africa Agri Tech conference on 18 February 2020. “Pilot projects are in the pipeline and calls for proposals will be sent out.”

AGDA will play a pivotal role in helping to ensure sustained food security in South Africa through promoting and supporting access to agricultural land by black emerging farmers, and through supporting the use of agricultural land and infrastructure development.

‘We believe the launch of AGDA is a milestone – a historic moment – and a turning point for farmers and citizens to take a stand and contribute to building a better South Africa,” says Leona

Strongly resonating with AGDA’s vision, and committed to the Bigen Group’s purpose of “doing good while doing business”, Bigen expects to play a significant role in positively impacting communities through providing development solutions linking infrastructure to socio-economic development and agricultural transformation.

“At Bigen, we fully understand the role that agriculture plays in South Africa and Africa, both for food security and as a driver of economic development,” says Leona. “For this reason, Bigen’s agriculture service offering focuses on agricultural engineering and economic services, smallholder farmer mobilisation and capacity building as well as agriculture value chain development and partner mobilisation amongst others.”

“A holistic approach to development that links land, water and agriculture with the aim of creating an enabling environment for economic growth will assist in improving quality of life of people and create a sustainable foundation for the future with decreased reliance on the state.”

Bigen’s understanding of the government systems and macro strategy for agricultural development for the country enables it to integrate multidisciplinary teams that can deliver innovative solutions to transforming the agricultural sector through sustainable value chain models.

Possessing a network of accredited partners with experience in the public sector, development finance, land reform, agricultural project development, agro-processing, agricultural engineering and community mobilisation, Bigen is also able to undertake:

  • Urban agricultural development;
  • Aquaculture project development;
  • Smart agriculture solutions; and
  • Fresh produce sourcing and off-take facilitation.

“South Africans have a passion for the land and we can be proud that our country has been self-sufficient in terms of virtually all major agricultural products. This, however, needs to be perpetuated while, at the same time, land ownership patterns need to change. Bigen, with its long history of supporting national development goals through providing innovative infrastructure development solutions, believes that in partnership with AGDA, it can make significant contributions to this critical transformational process,” concludes Leona.