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MBA research explores agri-business development

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Mr Clement Mawele had the opportunity to present his MBA research on the topic: Investigating the challenges of Co-operative Development within the Agri-business value chain in Mpumalanga at the recent Mancosa [GSB] Research Evening.

An account executive for a banking institution, Mr Mawele undertook the research to ascertain how agri-business enterprise development could assist in alleviating poverty in Mpumalanga which has a 28 percent unemployment rate  ̶  the region with the highest unemployment rate in South Africa. With this in mind, the study examined the obstacles that prevent the growth of farming co-operatives and their sustained participation in the mainstream economy.

Research findings indicate that the co-operative model is ideal in order to achieve agri-business development in Mpumalanga. However, a paradigm shift by farmers is required. This shift includes: creating a culture of ownership on resources gained from government programmes and self-development in management areas such as market research, financial planning and financial record keeping.

“Before co-operatives could get benefits in a form of government support there has to be screening in terms of organisational readiness. This will assist in reducing chances for conflict amongst members. There should also be neutral conflict resolution strategy that assists in mediating during times of internal problems at least for the period for which support is granted,” Mr Mawele.

Training in financial management; the allocation of after-care services for agri-businesses that receive government support to ensure that projects keep to specific plans; participation in mentorship and farmer incubation programmes to acquire skills from experienced farmers and the creation of a co-operative bank dedicated to tailor made funding mechanism ideal to emerging agri-business enterprises.

“I would like to see government aligning co-operative development strategies through the implementation of the study recommendations. This will help in getting farmers to grow and become sustainable within the agri-business value chain, thereby operating within the mainstream economy as well as becoming major contributors to South African employment as well as the GDP,” said Mr Mawele.

Mr Mawele was thankful for the opportunity to present his research at the Mancosa [GSB] Research Evening adding that it afforded him the opportunity to network with fellow graduates and academics.

“The event also opened doors future working partnership within the academic environment in an endeavour to develop sustainable agriculture in South Africa,” he added.

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