Mzansi Agri Talk turns one year

Today marks exactly one year since Mzansi Agriculture Talk was born. From the humble beginnings, we have now grown to become a trusted Agricultural News Site in South Africa.

We are proud to celebrate this milestone. We promised you, our dear readers, a different kind of agricultural news organisation that would challenge assumptions, unravel policy dichotomy, embrace technological change, and stand for a more open engagement. One year on, that mission feels more important now than ever before.

We are very proud to slowly but surely become a first stop source of agricultural information and a platform for agriculturalists to share developmental knowledge with both emerging and commercial farmers.

While we may be prudent to hoist a birthday celebration flag, the journey of turning a year old has its discomforts.

But amid all these, we remained and still remain more committed to serving you, our readers. We will keep investing in our newsroom resources to ensure that we continue to bring you reliable, well researched and high-level content that has been our trademark throughout the previous 12 months.

We are mindful that Covid-19 caused a serious distress to our country and the world at large but we are prepared to walk hand in hand with you as we rise from these ashes.

We are emerging from a period of great financial crisis that is forcing all of us to change the traditional ways that we used to do business. We, at Mzansi Agri Talk, also can’t wait for all of the change that the next few years potentially brings. Our promise to you is that we will continue applying sound ethical journalism to cover it all for you like we have been doing. We appreciate your support.

Mzansi Agriculture Talk | The Pre-Launch

Here’s what the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mzansi Agriculture Talk, Tshepo Phaahla, had to say of this new kid on the block.

Congratulations on turning one year old…how has the experience been like so far?
Challenging and exciting. We faced challenges just like any other new entrants in every market but what made our journey even exciting, is the warm welcome we received from what we now call our loyal readership. There’s no way we could have done it without them – and understanding them, and giving them exactly what they want and needed, played a bigger role in this journey. We availed to them informative content to help them in their farming enterprises.

So, the platform was created to fill what gap in the agricultural media space?
Although we acknowledge the role played by other media platforms focusing on Agriculture in South Africa, we still saw a gap for another agricultural news platform. The area of policy development and innovation, has not been covered greatly. Our research in observing the United States of America, reveal that each state has over 20 agricultural media outlets, from television, radio and print media, specialising in various agricultural aspects, collectively contributing to the overall success of agriculture in that country.

Is that why 90% of the American population know where their food comes from?
Correct, because the more information you have out there, the more people will know about the sector.  At Mzansi Agri Talk, we look to explain or narrate developments by letting the reader judge what to do with the information at hand. We are also mindful not to harm the sector or become reckless, but to also expose the purported wrongs committed. Hence, in some respects, we allow our news to be dominated by expert opinion pieces to open discussions and debate models.

You may want to agree with me that Covid-19, thou bad, exposed this sector as one of life’s essentials. So Mzansi Agri Talk, exists not only to inform farmers and policy makers but also ordinary South African consumers to the extent where they can tell the difference between a local chicken and an imported one.

So the intention is to help society care more about agriculture?
Yes indeed. Look how serious America takes agriculture. To be a senator or governor, you need the endorsement of the agricultural community. Also, in technology, did you know that in America they have a gaming for kids called Farming Simulator, and version 20 which is coming out in December? This game teaches kids about the different ways of farming, from milking a cow, driving a tractor, planting, soil testing, selling to the market and negotiation, testing temperatures and exposure to the whole value chain. So, a platform like ours wants to push the agricultural envelope, spark ideas and conversation. That is how we will be able to grow as a sector.

In this agricultural media space, how can you define yourself?
Like I have mentioned before, we work with a team of development studies, policy makers, unions, associations, economists and agri-scientists. Our aim is not only to inform but for you as the reader to do something with that information. The outbreak of FMD in Limpopo showed me that our information also benefitted commercial farmers, and they used it to form their own FMD Committee as they felt at that time government and the red meat industry were not taking their inputs seriously.

Do commercial farmers read Mzansi Agri Talk?
Initially when we started, we targeted emerging farmers as there was no news platform dedicated to them. But surprisingly most commercial farmers also turned up in numbers because of not only consuming information I suppose but doing something about it or first-time hearing about it.

Do you think it’s in the interest of agriculture to have a diversified agriculture media?
Definitely, we need to look past a person or an organisation, and focus on growing the sector. You know, we don’t even have an agricultural media course in higher institutions of learning. Look at Japan, Sweden, Germany, China and US – they see the importance of agricultural media for the success and sustainability of the sector. Without trained agricultural writers, we are contributing to our own destruction because we are effectively starving farmers of proper knowledge.

What is the future for Mzansi Agriculture Talk?
Lookout for it, we going to contribute the agricultural media space in an innovative way. We acknowledge industry role players, farmers, farmer organisations and various departments and organisations for creating a conducive environment for us to play in. – that’s all I can say.

#Re_a_Leboga #eNkosi #Siyabonga #Ndza_nkhensa #Ndo_Livhuwa #Dankie #Mzansi

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