It is a difficult job being in the country’s executive. Serving as a deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, dominated by the sort of left-of-centre ANC, and being leader of a right-of-centre political party, the Freedom Front Plus, complicates things further.
But Pieter Mulder yesterday was at the 2013 Undercover Farming Expo in Irene, outside Pretoria, patting farmers on the back. Despite its name, this has nothing to do with a form of farming white farmers do to duck away from the national land claims commission and the government’s land reform and restitution.
Undercover farming has to do with the cultivation of vegetables, flowers and seedlings under cover. It is sometimes known as “protected” farming.
“Undercover farming has been used in South Africa for nearly 40 years and is mainly used for the cultivation of vegetables, flowers and seedlings. Huge successes have already been accomplished in this area and nearly 350 undercover farming farmers provide employment to an estimated 70 000 people. As far as flower products alone are concerned, exports amount to about R500 million a year,” Mulder told guests at the expo.
However, he said the local industry was in its infancy. It was tiny compared with countries such as China, with millions of hectares under cover, and Spain, which has thousands of hectares under cover.
“I am proud to say that South African farmers are regarded as being among the world’s best. Our farmers have to compete on international markets under very difficult circumstances. They have to compete with farmers from countries where their governments offer protection and subsidies… which is not the case in South Africa,” he said.
He stuck his neck out – just a little – on the current political environment.
“Political factors… impede farmers to a large extent. Especially uncertainty caused by irresponsible political propaganda and the problems surrounding… land reform, can cause great harm to the agricultural sector and increasingly lead to unemployment,” he said.
He did not directly question Rural Development and Land Affairs Minister Gugile Nkwinti’s intention to limit the extent of land commercial farmers could hold or the desire to prevent foreigners from owning agricultural land, but he might see protected farming – which is done on a considerably reduced scale – as a way to resolve a pending political crisis over farmland in South Africa.
It just proves that farming – like politics – is not for sissies.
International investment in hotels in Johannesburg is nothing new, because the city is our main destination for business travel and conferences. So it is no surprise that the increasingly active Johannesburg Tourism Company is part of a delegation from the city’s economic development committee attending the 16th international hotel development forum in Berlin this week.
But the Johannesburg Tourism team will go on to take part in the annual ITB Berlin, an international travel show where the emphasis is on leisure, due to start in Berlin at the end of this week.
In fact, according to Johannesburg Tourism communications manager Laura Vercueil, the city is attracting holiday visitors, particularly younger people, in increasing numbers, who are interested in its history including that of the Struggle years and its vibrant fashion and entertainment industries. It even has open-topped sightseeing buses now, as Cape Town has had for some time, whose route runs through several improvement areas in and around the city centre.
Johannesburg Tourism supports the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week taking place in the city later this month, which attracts fashion-conscious private buyers as well as commercial firms.
It will also support the city’s inaugural three-day Buy Sell Invest Visit Conference and Expo in May, aimed at attracting trade and investment from Brics partners Brazil, Russia, India and China and the Southern African Development Community. It is intended to become an annual event to encourage the growth and development of the city as an attractive place to live and work over the next 30 years.
Telkom’s cellphone arm, 8ta, is expected to announce a partnership with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) today.
This move follows growing interest by firms in the information and communications technology sector to sponsor sports disciplines, which arguably offers a gold mine for marketing mileage.
Blue Label Telecoms, a provider of secure electronic tokens in an online and offline environment for airtime, electricity and other commodities, is in partnership with Cricket South Africa to sponsor the Proteas T20 squad.
The funding deal includes the right to name the team.
The company is cleverly leveraging off this relationship to provide creative money-spinning initiatives around sports teams. One of these initiatives is to produce SIM card starter packs specifically for Blue Bulls rugby fans. By purchasing the card the user unlocks a stream of giveaways such as the best parking at games, the best seating and insight and exclusive information from their team.
Vodacom and MTN are other sponsors of significant sports events.
MTN is a sponsor of Manchester United and the Barclays Premier League. Vodacom backs provincial rugby, football teams, an equestrian event and is patron of the Vodacom Wheelchair Basketball Cup.
Telkom enjoys a historic relationship with the PSL and last October it announced a renewal of the partnership for five more years for the Telkom Knockout.
This competition was birthed in 2006.
What remains to be seen is how this ongoing relationship has succeeded in attracting new customers to Telkom’s fixed-line business.
But 8ta, which has yet to make a profit since launch in 2010, may be able to score better from this partnership.
Its township slang name for “howzit” will resonate more with the youthful audience that floods football stadiums.
Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Donwald Pressly, Audrey D’Angelo and Asha Speckman.