It is highly unlikely that individual agribusinesses have the means in terms of time, financial resources, location and intellectual capital to pursue their vital interests and concerns with government, industry and international role-players. It will be difficult for them to ensure an optimum playing field where business can be conducted. Agbiz’s key focal areas bear testimony to this reality. So said Schalk Pienaar, chairman of the organisation, at Agbiz’s biennial congress in Somerset West last week.

Pienaar pointed out that, since its inception in 1946, Agbiz had transformed itself from a co-operative body to a fully-fledged agribusiness sector organisation. The transformation took place by means of a rapid upscaling of the organisation’s focal areas over the last number of years. Transformation of the national policy and governance environments, as well as the awakening of the African continent as an economic and business area, attracting increasing international attention, necessitated these changes, Pienaar said.

“In order to keep pace with the demands of these environments, Agbiz is increasingly involved in agribusiness affairs in a consultative, facilitating and advisory role. We do not endeavour to win popularity contests by doing this – we strive to do what is right and best in the interests of our members.

“The huge demands on the South African economy and the ongoing pursuit of policies and models to sustainably grow the economy at acceptable levels, directly affect Agbiz, and especially its members. Infrastructure, energy, water, climate change, transformation issues, a positive and supportive trade environment, skills development, innovation and technological demands constitute but a few of the matters that are dealt with by Agbiz on a full-time and ongoing basis.

“Little wonder that there are demands for still greater support from, and involvement by Agbiz in these matters on behalf of its members. The ‘lighthouse’ role of Agbiz will become less of an instrument warning of pitfalls and risks, and more of a directional beacon to show the way forward for profitable, competitive and sustainable business. In so doing, the obvious support of an increasing membership, as well as adequate funding of Agbiz, will be paramount.

“I challenge you all to join us on this journey and to make your much needed inputs and contributions. Agbiz exists for you – it belongs to you. Use us for your own best interests,” Pienaar concluded.