Abangani Project

To date, the most successful model for transferring an agricultural business and accompanying land from one entity to another is that of parents to children. Therefore, a model similar to the parent-to-child-model should be found. The suggested Abangani project has exactly that in mind. Abangani is a Zulu word which refers to the extended family. In the AMOS context, we could speak about a spiritual family.
AMOS AGRIMIN is an agricultural ministry that strives to reveal the Kingdom of God by restoring and rebuilding the rural and agricultural community’s relationship with God, people and creation. The vision of Amos Agrimin is Living and Farming God’s Way.

Purpose of the Abangani project

To contribute towards the search for models (there can be more than one model) on how to grant young people from previously disadvantaged communities opportunities to enter commercial agriculture in ways that are affordable, sustainable and successful.
The suggested Abangani project is a “pilot project”. The goal is not to see how many new farmers we can establish, but to see how successfully we can establish farmers. Groblershoop in the Northern Cape was chosen for this “pilot project” because Amos Agrimin and Palms GF4GF Centre has already been established in the !Kheis community and is part of this community.

Envisaged outcome

To establish a first generation of new black and brown farmers in agriculture:

  • Whose relationships with God, people and creation have been restored and are healthy;
  • Who have a love for agriculture and consider farming to be their calling;
  • Who have sufficient agricultural knowledge and technical skills;
  • Who strive for and live out positive values;
  • Who have good family and marriage relationships;
  • Who maintain a Biblical work ethic and strive for productivity;
  • Who are free of any form of addiction;
  • Who are already part of local, non-racist structures of organised agriculture.

These farmers may be integrated into commercial agriculture at more than one point depending on their potential and personal preference.

Project Plan

4.1 Matriculants: Young people who love agriculture and have passed matric do a GoodYear at Palms GF4GF Centre. During the GoodYear they work through the existing GF4GF curriculum. The curriculum focuses on character transformation, positive values, healthy relationships and inter-personal skills, leadership development, emotional healing and much more. These students are also involved in agricultural projects at Palms, are responsible for the “green programme” in the local community and spiritual ministry on surrounding farms. As from 2015, these students will also participate on a regular basis in planning and practical farming activities of Agri-Edu Provision (Pty) Ltd on Verlateput under the mentorship of Hennie Viljoen and Wilhelm Nothnagel. More farms may get involved.

Some of the students who do the GoodYear programme may remain for a second or even a third year as group leaders and/or to present certain training. After completing their GoodYear, some may immediately start working on farms, while others who have the ability, may go on to study agriculture at university or agricultural colleges. Their spiritual family at the Palms GF4GF Centre and the large Amos family will support them where possible in many different ways. Their relationship with the parent home and local community will be maintained while they are studying. We will also help the students to find a spiritual home where they are studying.

Students will return to Palms GF4GF Centre when they have completed their studies. Through the Centre they are then (taking their personal preference and calling into consideration) placed mainly on Amos farms and/or with Amos farmers. Some may be placed at the Palms GF4GF Centre or other GF4GF centres where they will be responsible for agriculture.
4.2 Qualified young people: The GoodYear is advertised annually among agricultural students at universities and agricultural colleges. The best candidates from those interested are chosen to do a GoodYear at Palms GF4GF Centre at the end of their academic year. Their training is exactly the same as that of the matriculants who are interested in agriculture.

4.3 Placement: In time (it could be 5 years), all students as described in 4.1 and 4.2 may be incorporated into agriculture in one of four ways:
4.3.1 In a leadership position on a commercial farm (probably where he/she is already working);
4.3.2 As a shareholder in an existing commercial farming business (probably where he/she is already working);At a GF4GF Centre as manager of agricultural projects and/or as an agricultural lecturer;
4.3.4 Established on his/her own land to farm independently (no matter whether the land is provided by the sate and/or rented or purchased in another way.) Establishment should occur in the same area. Mentorship is no longer a prerequisite forced onto the new farmer from outside. It should be a spontaneous desire to ask for advice from more experienced farmers as a good relationship has developed through the years. In time, the new farmer and the Amos farmer where he/she worked, should consider one another members of an extended family. Abangani! If the Abangani (extended family) strives for Godly relationships, they should continually learn from and help each other.

Advantages of Abangani project

There are many advantages to this approach:
5.1 It focuses on the youth and helps to accommodate many students who have completed their studies in agriculture.
5.2 The focus is on the holistic development of the agriculturalist as a person and not just the distribution of land. There is a big difference between develop the land for the people and develop the people for the land. Academic knowledge, practical skills, moral values and personal talents are all taken into account. Agriculturalists with integrity and skill are developed.
5.3 It works on the conviction that “slow is fast and less is more”. It is better to establish fewer new farmers successfully over a longer period than establishing many farmers quickly but unsuccessfully.
5.4 The selection of candidates takes place over an extended period and according to appropriate criteria, and not according to political preference. Selection cannot occur successfully on the basis of half-hour interviews. Selection begins at school.
5.5 Unity in organised agriculture is promoted because the young farmer is already part of a multi-racial family and becomes part of the local agricultural community in a natural way. In contrast to “unknown, unloved” is “to know all is to love all.” This is a model based on relationships.
5.6 In spite of the fact that it is a model based on relationships, new farmers are settled individually and not as groups. Private ownership, personal initiative, accountability and stewardship are maintained.
5.7 The system is in line with the Biblical principle that those who are faithful with little should be appointed over much. It is about rewarding faithfulness. Those who are unfaithful and unreliable in small things cannot be trusted with more.
5.8 It is mainly a private sector initiative, although the state should play an important part and must make a contribution, especially with regards to the provision of land.
5.9 It makes a valuable contribution towards successful land reform in South Africa.
5.10 The project offers a broad basis. Not all the young people who enter the programme will become independent commercial farmers. Only the best will be
established. Depending on their potential, personality and faithfulness, they will become part of commercial agriculture in various ways. See 4.3 above.

Challenges

Although there are a great many advantages to the Abangani project, there are also challenges. Key factors for success are the following:
6.1 Selection: The challenge will be to select the very best young people from those who have completed their studies at universities or colleges to do the GoodYear (to select the cream of the crop). There is usually a lot of pressure on students who have completed their studies to immediately start earning big bucks to send money home. It is pay back time.
6.2 Funding: Bursaries for the GoodYear, as well as tertiary training must be sought. State bursaries are often only available from the second year. Students who have already completed their tertiary education must, in the light of 6.1, also receive a higher salary for their GoodYear than those who do their GoodYear immediately after matric. They should receive at least double the minimum wage. A GoodYear bursary fund has already been established but sufficient funds still need to be found.
6.3 Land: The availability and affordability of land in the immediate area is an important factor. So too is cooperation between the state and commercial agriculture and the land reform policy of the government of the day.
6.4 Accreditation: It is essential for Amos Agrimin and/or GF4GF Centres to register as service providers at the Agri Seta in order to obtain maximum funding for their learnerships.
6.5 Relationship between government and commercial agriculture: Cooperation without interference is imperative. Even though the Abangani project can take pressure off this tense relationship, cooperation between the two parties to achieve a common goal is crucial.
6.6 GF4GF Centres: The establishment of more GF4GF Centres in rural areas is required in order for the project to expand.

Growth potential

Amos Agrimin and Palms GF4GF Centre strive towards establishing GF4GF Centres throughout rural South Africa and in other African countries. With as little as 10 centres in South Africa and as little as 5 agricultural students who are placed annually, we can establish up to 50 young farmers in commercial agriculture annually through Abangani project. Because the potential for success of this model is so much higher than the sustainability of current projects, even as few as 50 young farmers a year will make a significant difference.

Concluding remarks

This project envisages a “farmer incubator” – a spiritual extended family (Abangani) in which a young farmer develops over a few years to a point at which he/she can establish his/her own descendants in commercial agriculture the way parents have established their own children (the next generation) in agriculture up until now. The Abangani project should therefore deliver sustainable results.