The family farming network Saai has been given the green light to represent the voice of commercial farmers of South Africa at the World Farmers Organisation (WFO). The WFO consists of 86 national agricultural unions on six continents and participates in deliberations of the UN and its agencies, the World Economic Forum and other international events. Saai joins the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA) as the only South African agricultural organizations represented at the World Farmers Organization.
The WFO’s focus is on eight policy committees that develop views and clarity among farmers worldwide to address to global institutions: on trade, cooperatives, education and youth, women, climate and biodiversity, technology and digitalisation, animal husbandry and animal health, and intellectual property rights as well as plant breeders’ rights.
The WFO also has a scientific council on which two South Africans serve: Prof. James Blignaut from the University of Stellenbosch and the economist Dawie Roodt.
Saai is an agricultural interest network that focuses only on family farmers. It is the world’s first “open-economy” agricultural structure that implements all its activities that go beyond policy influencing into network partnerships. Saai is thus involved in action-oriented network partnerships with like-minded organizations that deal with, among other things, labor issues, agricultural development, security and civil rights, training and youth in agriculture.
Saai has long had good networking relationships with agricultural unions elsewhere in the world, such as the CFU in Zimbabwe, NAK in Hungary and AKKOR in Russia, and administers a number of scholarships for deserving agricultural students at foreign universities.
The chairman of Saai’s board, Dr Theo de Jager, has been the president of the WFO since 2017 but represents the Zimbabwean farmers there.