A New Dawn for SAFAEAS

Keen to boost its visibility, the South African Forum for Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (SAFAEAS), an AFAAS Country Fora has launched a new website to keep its stakeholders informed of its services.

The new website, www.safaeas.co.za went live in the last few months and was developed following technical training support from AFAAS.

“We are excited that we now have visibility in the form of website which, by the way developed through assistance and guidance of AFAAS Secretariat Team,” said CIKM Facilitator, Njabulo Zwane, who worked with volunteer intern to put the website together.

Zwane said developing and nurturing relationships with stakeholder is critical in organisational success because SAFAEAS has tapped into it well-developed networks to get services pro bono in terms of securing an intern and a functional committee of six to run the country fora.

The website launch was part of SAFAEAS’s marketing and communication plan to bolster the visibility of the country fora activities in South Africa to attract new members and promote the professionalization of agricultural extension and advisory and services. South Africa has a vibrant AEAS services under the banner of the South Africa Society for Agricultural Extension (SASAE) which has been promoting professionalization of AEAS services.

SAFAEAS Focal Person, Ms. Thembi Ngotho, said in addition to launching a website, the country fora has also unveiled a new logo created after a wide consultation. The new logo reflects all key stakeholders in the AEAS sector.

“The creation of our website was a result of the dedication and volunteering spirit that members displayed and the responsibility they have for our organisation,” Ngotho said.” “We can learn from each other and the meetings that we have had through the CAAPDX4 programme made us realise the need to take the highlight from other country forums. We relied upon the experiences and lessons from these fora on how they have developed their sites.”

A new home

The SAFAEAS has also found a new home at the SASAE following a long search to accommodate its secretariat. The country fora is grateful for the support from the Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) who have ensured that SAFAEAS can undertake its operations. The ARC has been providing secretariat services thus far, as well as lending an intern.

Zwane said while the country fora was being hosted by the SASAE with offices in Bloemfontein, it was working hard to establish a fully staffed secretariat in the capital city of Pretoria to effectively support daily functioning and governance issues. It was finalising a board charter the appointment of a board of directors.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges of physical meetings and curtailed the country fora activities which led to SAFAEAS holding online meetings.

“The use of e-resources and platforms such as Zoom and Skype presented an opportunity, as well as challenges for us as a country for a, because at times the committee would set up meeting and people will have network issues, but we have had to be technology savvy to make use of these platforms, Ngotho said.

Looking ahead, SAFAEAS is planning a working webinar, to undertake activities for the CAADPXP4 programme. The webinar set for February 2021 will also provide an opportunity to launch six thematic working groups on climate smart agriculture, general training AEAS and curriculum development, professionalization, foresight, resource mobilisation and ICT4Agri/ Digitization.