Henley Business School. Picture: Henley Business School
Henley Business School. Picture: Henley Business School

Henley Business School Africa is to introduce two programmes this year for novices in the agricultural sector. They are the three-day Foundations of Farm Business Success and the longer Agri-Business Innovation and Leadership.

Dean Jon Foster-Pedley says: “Land reform and access to land for farming remains a burning issue in our country. Just under 26% of the available arable land is in African hands. Changing this status is inevitable but we have to do it constructively and productively.”

The new courses, he says, will provide farmers with necessary skills — one in farming-specific and general management, and the other in agricultural innovation and higher-level management.

Besides land ownership, food security is vital in a country where unemployment is rampant and over 33% of South Africans rely on state grants as their main source of income, says Foster-Pedley.

He says: “No one needs reminding of the inherent dangers of populism and political opportunism which have played out in Zimbabwe, where economically effective land is placed in the hands of emergent farmers without the necessary skills, or politically connected individuals with no intention of farming.”

The Henley programmes are the result of studies by Henley Africa, Henley UK, and the latter’s parent University of Reading. Researchers met representatives of multiple agricultural sectors, including subsistence farmers, commercial farmers, government officials and executives from agricultural co-ops.

Henley Africa research head Adri Drotskie says: “We found that while there is a lot of technical training available for farmers, there is no training on management.”

The programmes will include four focus areas: management and planning; financial management and budgeting; innovation; and people management.