- develop climate-smart agricultural practices
- promote agriculture and industry
- contribute to better quality of life
- facilitate / ensure natural resource conservation
“We take our task of facilitating the agricultural activities of the country very seriously. Because food security is our responsibility, we ensure that there is always good quality and sufficient food for the nation. In order to meet the ongoing national needs of the country as far as food is concerned, we have to ensure that there is a sustainable use and management of natural resources,” articulates Dr Moephuli.
Dr Moephuli adds by stating that only when there is a surplus of food “do we export food to other parts of the world, we must meet our local needs first”. When asked whose interest the ARC has mostly at heart, Dr Moephuli is quick to straighten the facts. “We do not adopt a biased approach. We always provide an environment where all members of the society from an ordinary man in the street to small-holder farmers to commercial farmers can benefit. We assist the country to meet its socio-economic needs of providing food. We also contribute indirectly to the income-generation of the country; therefore boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. We also assist farmers in general with high-quality information and knowledge; we specifically ensure that resource-poor farmers receive proper technical guidance. We also work closely with higher education institutions to ensure good quality research findings”, outlines the positive Dr Moephuli.
Clearly this outstanding, which received more than R17-million from the National Research Fund in 2012 has a large pool of stakeholders. Farmers, commodity groups and associations, professional bodies as well as individuals are some of the beneficiaries of the ARC’s ongoing efforts as it plays its role of being an excellent and valuable asset to the country. Coming up with innovative and smart solutions, which help farmers eliminate pests and eradicate diseases such as foot and mouth is another key area that the ARC continually focuses on. Vaccines, a highly specialised animal health area, allow the ARC to conduct clinical trials to ensure the efficacy and effectiveness of such remedies for the livestock sector. This enables livestock producers to increase yields by producing more healthy animals with good quality meat; thereby enabling the South African consumer to find good quality meat in their store shelf. Recently, this institution has produced 18 new cultivars (varieties) of deciduous fruit that allow farmers to produce competitively and in a sustainable manner, whilst delivering high quality fruit. When it comes to economic and trade activities, the ARC believes that it will continue to provide small-holder farmers with scientific and technical expertise and advice that will enable them to access markets in much a similar manner to commercial farmers. This is done by introducing these farmers to new breeding methods, which are cost effective yet yield excellent results. “We make it possible for resource-poor farmers to fulfil their visions of entering the commercial market where they can achieve higher returns for their investments and participate in a competitive environment.”
Land productivity, another ongoing subject that the ARC focuses its effort on, continues to present the institution with enormous opportunities. South Africa boasts large areas of arable land; therefore it is not surprising that the international community has chosen South Africa to host the interactive World Soybean Research Congress on 17- 20 February 2013, in Durban. Dr. Moephuli, does not only speak knowledgeably of soybean, he excitedly states that this congress comes to South Africa at an opportune time when issues of bio-energy and food security require smart solutions. “Soybean is an excellent source of protein. It is a nutritious legume for humans and livestock; needless to say that it is also a good source for bio-energy. We expect this Congress to allow global experts to exchange valuable knowledge on the different uses of soya bean. It also brings other economic benefits to the country and allow visitors to enjoy the beautiful landscape of our country”, concludes Dr Moephuli on a positive note.
Guided by government’s New Growth Path (NGP), the ARC provides technical know-how and scientific solutions that will enable the agricultural sector to meaningfully contribute its potential to create jobs, and improve the lives of people. The NGP targets job opportunities for 300 000 households in agriculture smallholder schemes, and a further 145 000 jobs in agro-processing, which in turn will have the potential to upgrade conditions for 660 000 farm workers by 2020. The government has also committed to creating 130 000 jobs in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors by 2014; all this can be realised if the ARC continues to play its unique role of providing an enabling environment not only to researchers, farmers, partners and key stakeholders, but all South African citizens – come rain or shine!
At the ARC:
- We disseminate scientific solutions for agricultural development
- People are the most important asset for effective delivery
- Clients and stakeholders are at the centre of our activities
Case in Point
The current weather conditions in some parts of South Africa may not be perfect for the agricultural community; however the current rains are most welcome by the agricultural society. There are uncertainties that come with these weather patterns, however the commitment of bringing a positive impact to the lives of people through agriculture that is both scientific and professional never wavers. These are the words of Dr. Shadrack Moephuli, the Chief Executive Officer and President of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).
The ARC, a premier science institution that conducts research with partners, develops human capital and fosters innovation in support of the Agricultural sector, continues to illustrate a commitment of making a meaningful contribution. Although this knowledge hub, has several key stakeholders, it never loses its focus when it comes to its reason for existence. This unique institution understands that its key mandate is to conduct research in regards to a few key elements:
Providing an Enabling Environment for All
by Nomia Machebe