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Nation in Conversation takes a look at transformation success stories in the Western Cape

  • 04 September 2019
  • 1655
  •  press-release

On the panel were Kosie van Zyl (shareholder and mentor at Agri Dwala), Gavin Jaars (Agri Dwala Director), Rupert Koopman (CapeNature botanist), Alfreda Mars (producer and Grain SA member), and Joyene Isaacs (Head of Development at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture).

The conversation kicked off with Gavin Jaars highlighting the importance of communication and day-to-day planning for the success of transformation projects. Kosie van Zyl joined in and said that the success of Agri Dwala was based on two factors: one the structures within the enterprise which include a combination of joint and individual decision making; and secondly, the help of the Western Cape government. He further emphasised that three aspects to success stand out for him over the rest. “First, you need to have a plan that is profitable. Secondly, you need to involve the right people or partners in the plan and finally, include the right people who share your passion and vision”.

Joyene Isaacs stated that individuals joining the sector should not think agriculture and farming are professions where you will step in and have immediate success fall on your lap. “Agriculture is a long-term investment and the mistake made is that it started selling as a short-term value. Success does not happen overnight; it is a 10 - 15-year process”.

Furthermore, the panel pointed out that context of each situation / business is important and that success models cannot be seen as a 'one size fits all' approach. The risks and markets of each situation and business differ. In the bigger picture, it doesn't matter if you are alone or in a partnership, you have to have a passion, have a plan and work hard. 

Alfreda Mars shared with us that in order to be successful in agriculture you need soil and water. One of the biggest problems is the fact that money is invested in land and not necessarily in water. “Many of the farms purchased by the state, as in my case, do not have water. Better planning and a long-term vision are important. I don't believe in getting poor farms, you have to make it work”.

Joyene Isaacs concluded by saying that producers should focus on five key aspects to success: First, you need to have a plan that you can adapt because agriculture has its risks. Secondly, agriculture must be able to make money and understand the economic aspect behind it. Thirdly, bringing together businesses and communities is very important. Producers must then focus on sustainability and environmental conservation and finally, policies must be in place to allow producers to optimise market access.

To watch this conversation again or for more information regarding Nation in Conversation please visit Also download the Nation in Conversation app and experience Nation in Conversation as if you were sitting in the studio.

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