Annual Agri-Expo promotes transformation in show industry

Upcoming farmers and their experience of agricultural shows were in the spotlight at Agri-Expo’s annual agricultural show meeting held in Paarl recently. This year’s gathering of agricultural shows who are members of the Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society was attended by more than 50 representatives from 14 different shows in the Western and Northern Cape.

According to Johan Ehlers, Chief Executive Officer of Agri-Expo, this annual initiative creates a platform for agricultural shows to move forward: “The purpose of the meeting is to exchange ideas amongst shows, stimulate new ways of thinking, discuss agricultural trends – national as well as international, and coordinate show dates. This year’s theme was Transformation in Agricultural Shows, to specifically give upcoming farmers an opportunity to come and tell their stories themselves.”

Dr Dirk Troskie, director of business planning and strategy at the Western Cape agriculture department, spoke about their Connect Agri campaign reaching out to rural areas in collaboration with agricultural shows. The purpose of this programme is to initiate contact between upcoming and commercial farmers, launch new services and to make young people excited about careers in agriculture.

Riana van Rensburg, agricultural advisor of the Western Cape agriculture department, highlighted the success of Clanwilliam’s agricultural show for upcoming farmers. The show grew from 87 participants with 69 sheep and goats in 2015 to 191 participants with 105 sheep and goats in 2017.

One of the participants, Amelia Koopman, said she “felt at home” this year and described the recognition, motivation and feedback from the judges as “exceptional”. Every year the winners of the upcoming show are invited to participate in the show for established farmers.

According to Ms Van Rensburg, agricultural shows add value as “upcoming farmers cannot remain upcoming for ever; for their human dignity, their financial prosperity and for growth in the agricultural sector, we need to help them on their journey to become proper commercial farming concerns.”

The Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society (known today as Agri-Expo) was founded in 1831 and is the oldest agricultural society in South Africa. The organisation promotes the image of agriculture through marketing initiatives such as expos, including the South African Cheese Festival and the Big Farm Taste at Livestock.

For more information, visit www.agriexpo.co.za, follow Agri-Expo on Facebook or Twitter, or contact Agri-Expo at 021 975 4440 or admin@agriexpo.co.za