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Symposium Free State Branch of SASAE - Symposium on "Towards understanding and application of climate change strategies"

Free State Branch of SASAE Winner of Loubie Loubser Trophy 2015
Background and Introduction: Free State Branch


Positive reinforcement, active management and intuitive participation saw the dormant status (since 2003) of the SASAE Free State branch prosper into an active and grounded branch. The degradation of the Free State branch can be attributed to amongst other the lack of member participation and insufficient support from the Agriculture executive management of the Provincial Department. Since then a few members actively pursued the revival of the branch and with the support of the University of Free State, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Rural Development and Extension in 2012, managed to grow from strength to strength.

During 2012, the University sponsored the first Information Transference workshop which took place on 29 April, whereby the UFS undertook the financial cost contribution for organisation and catering of the workshop, provided the venue and also organised Dr E Zwane to give an extensive presentation on the role of SASAE in promoting Extension. Dr Zwane played a crucial role in encouraging Extension practitioners to join SASAE.

In review of the workshop, extension personnel in the Free State province requested past SASAE committee members to intervene and assist in reviving the branch and elected Me Mbongo as interim branch chairperson.

The following were elected as members of the newly established committee:

 
Vice Chairperson : Mr Peter van Heerden
Treasurer : Mr G Hadebe
Secretary : Me Irene Molioa
Other Members : Ms- P Mthimkulu
Mr Maphalla
Dr van Niekerk

The selected committee members were extremely committed to the revival of the branch and though many challenges were experienced during this period, each managed to actively contribute and excel. Together the committee organised the National Conference in June 2013. In addition the selected committee drafted a proposal and approached the Department of Agriculture, Free State Province, to request their support by sponsoring the traveling costs of committee members and the membership fee for all branch members who were employed by the Department of Agriculture, FS. We are humble for the support of the Department of Agriculture who has been subsidizing the membership fee of their employees, since 2012 until 2013. It is through the efforts of this committee that the Department was able to send more than thirty (30) delegates to the SASAE conferences since 2012. In 2013 (when the branch hosted the National conference) the Department proved their support by releasing 65 officials to attend.

During the course of 2013 the branch presented two seminars and Dr Terblanche of UP was invited to address the attendees. His talk on “the role of the new Extensionist in the Free State Province” proved successful and sparked quite a debate and participation from the audience. These seminars was held on the 28Th and 29th of August 2013 in Bloemfontein at UFS, main campus and Bethlehem respectively. (See attached notices and the presentation)

On 29 November 2013 the first AGM meeting in a 10 year period were hosted in Bethlehem and attended by more than 80 members. The prepared presentation, under the expert guidance of Dr Zwane, was presented by Mr Makena and highlighted the role of SASAE in Extension.

The presentation was followed by the AGM meeting, whereby the following members were elected as representatives of the branch committee.

 
Chairperson : Ms ML Mbongo
Vice Chairperson : Ms M Malete
Secretary : Ms D. Mahanyele
Treasurer : Mr Maphalla
Co-opted Members : Mr M Mokuoane Deputy Secretary - Lejweleputswa District
Ms K Kgolane - Fezile Dabi district
Other Members : Mr Majola
Dr van Niekerk
Representative : Mr P van Heerden

The elected committee co-opted other members from the various districts in order to give reports and feedback on SASAE activities in their Extension meetings. This alternative was incorporated due to budget constraints as the branch was not financially able to organise more meetings and seminars/ workshops, subsidize travel arrangements, etc., but chose not to let this obstacle hinder the branch development and growth.

Achievements of the branch under leadership of the elected Committee


Compilation of the draft document outlining the branch constitution. The draft document was officially approved and adopted at the AGM held on 29th November 2013.

Responsible for organising meetings at which the year plan were developed and approved. Developing of member’s roles and responsibility in their capacity as branch committee members to support the growth of the Free State branch. (see attached minutes)

Securing of external sponsorships to fund internal activities and ensure future growth. (Managed to secure a sponsorship of R15 000-00 from Mashinini Enterprise)

The branch committee played an active role in organising the Department Extension conference that took place in February 2013 and November 2014.

Committee members were also requested to be part of the adjudication committee in judging of the Extension awards in the province (since 2013 - Dr van Niekerk and Mr van Heerden represented SASAE).

Establishing an operational budget for the branch, through opening a bank account with Nedbank - account number 1067970444 - in February 2014. The current balance of the account is R14 000.00( Refer to attached bank statements)

Committee branch members assisted the Department to organise two (2) Extension workshops, held in May 2014 in different districts. Me Mbongo was requested to give a report on the SASAE activities as well as the latest developments about SACNASP registration, at these workshops.

Two seminars respectively were presented at the University of the Free State on the 17th and 30th of September 2014 and included presentations by Mr. W Ellis on ‘Conflict management in Extension”. In addition SACNASP were invited to give presentations at both sessions. The University of Free State agreed to sponsor the venue and speaker and catering of the sessions. (see attached photos and notes)

Mr Makena and Ms Mbongo were requested to be members of the Extension committee and played a major role in providing guidance in the development of the provincial ERP business plan and in the organisation of the Extension conference. They were also serving as SASAE representative in these committees.

The branch committee organised its first workshop for 2015 on 8 May 2015 in Welkom. The topic under discussion was “Farm and business planning as a tool to better/improve Extension support to farmers” presented by Dr P Tirivanhu, Ms S Ndlovu and Mr Carel Faurie. The workshop was attended by 63 members and the AGM were funded by Mashinini Enterprise with an amount of R7 000-00. (refer to attached invitation and presentations)

Challenges faced by the Free State Branch


The main challenge experienced by the branch can be attributed to the decline in membership in 2014 as a result of confusion generated by the required registration of extension practitioners with SACNASP. With the re-launch of the branch in 2012, 48 extension practitioners were registered as members, this number increased in 2013 to 80 members. With the start of 2015 only 20 members renewed their membership. Immediate action was taken by the branch committee and the secretaries contacted most of the previous registered members, but with little positive feedback. After extensive communication and interactive marketing campaigns, 63 members renewed their membership on the 8th of May 2015 at the hosted seminar.

Due to current budget constraints experienced by the Department of Agriculture, who is the primary employer of most branch members, renewal decreased as the Department were unable to uphold previous years travel subsidy support for their employees to attend branch activities.

Future plans of the Free State Branch
It was decided by attending members at the AGM (May 2015) that:


The branch should organise two workshops whereby members of the Board should be invited to come and encourage and motivate extension officers and also to inform members on the benefits of being SASAE members.

Branch committee members should also be given an opportunity to talk about SASAE (activities and benefits) in their monthly extension meetings in the various districts.

SASAE should be invited to give a presentation at the Provincial Extension conference scheduled for 2015.

Management Committee Free State Branch - 2013

 
Chairperson : Ms. Mantombi Mbongo
Vice Chairperson : Mr. Pieter van Heerden
Treasurer : Mr. Griffith Hadebe
Secretary : Ms. Irene Moiloa
Vice Secretary : Ms. Petunia Mthimkulu
Other Members : Mr. Lefu Maphalla
Dr. Johan van Niekerk

 
 
 
 
 
 

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