Developing Africa’s farmers of tomorrow, today
SerDEV, a member of the Sernick Group of Companies, is passionate about playing a developmental role in the growth of the African agricultural sector. As such, the company designs and implements integrated livestock value chains across South Africa and the broader continent, within the beef market, to create robust agricultural business ecosystems that empower African livestock farmers.
The Sernick Group maintains that a large part of South Africa’s future lies in the hands of the country’s farmers. It believes that by empowering farmers and rural communities, and by creating agricultural investment models, farmers and stakeholders within the agricultural value chain can help transform South Africa.
It is on this idea that SerDEV has been founded – and the premise that proud, commercially viable, sustainable and successful livestock farmers who take ownership of integrated value chains represent the transformative potential within this critical sector.
It is against this backdrop that SerDEV has adopted three core focus areas: livestock farmer development, value chain development and community development.
Livestock farmer development
SerDEV has developed a sustainable growth model for developing farmers with formal land tenure and livestock. This model is well tested and flexible enough to be adapted to market needs and the type of land tenure available.
Between 2018 and 2020 the Sernick Group, together with The Jobs Fund at National Treasury, implemented the highly successful Sernick Developing Farmers Programme. The initiative focused on sustainable cattle production in the Free State, and aimed to ultimately develop 660 emerging cattle farmers into at least 56 commercial and sustainable cattle farming operations.
Aside from implementing knowledge from the training interventions and cultivating inherent expertise, farmers are mentored over the long term to stimulate wealth creation and ensure their success.
These catalytic projects are best suited to livestock farmers at district and provincial levels. They are innovative, scalable, replicable and generate shared wealth for all participants. They provide opportunities for people to participate in employment in a variety of ways, with dignity, and without the traditional employer-employee hierarchical relationships typical of past means of production.
The successful development of farmers relies on a suitable value chain that provides for the overall market. Sernick currently provides the market for developing farmers, and will share this value chain with farmers in the future. It has also partnered with funding institutions, training service providers and companies to further the success of these ecosystems.
Value chain development
The Sernick Group manages its own successful value chain. SerDEV plans, designs, implements, supports and manages greenfield value chain entities, and redevelops brownfield value chain entities, including:
- Commercial and stud farming
- Phase C bull testing stations
- Animal feed production
- Cattle feedlot and custom feeding
- Abattoir, deboning and export
- Wholesale and retail
- Logistics and cold chain
- Training facilities
- Research and development
SerDEV supports and implements these value chain entities with communities, developing farmers, clusters of farmers, companies and governments in South Africa and the rest of Africa. The company uses its own in-house expertise, and collaborates with the best expertise in the market, to maximise the success of these value chain entities.
SerDEV doesn’t only work with individual farmers, but entire communities in farming areas. It recognises that communities must be safe, enjoy food security and have the willingness to be responsible for their own destiny.
To this end the company provides household surveys, management and training support, and assists with business planning, access to finance and subsequent job creation.
SerDEV has launched a pilot programme near its base in Edenville, Free State. It is providing the enabling environment with management support and training, while decisions around the type of projects that will be pursued, their management and their sustainability are being left to the community.
SerDEV has partnered with companies utilising their CSI funding to assist with community development.
“Our previously-implemented farmer development programme, undertaken in partnership with The Jobs Fund, showed impressive outcomes. This inspired our mission to play a greater role in agricultural growth, and gave us the confidence to pursue our new vision of creating agricultural business ecosystems across Africa,” says SerDEV Managing Director: Farmer Development, Petro Naudé. “Our brand promise is to grow these African value chains with integrity, and by providing unparalleled industry support and expertise. We go beyond giving developing farmers and value-chain participants the technical skill and business acumen needed for operational and financial success; we develop them at a personal level, as leaders.”
The SerDEV development model will be replicated at scale throughout South Africa and selectively in Africa while retaining a critical mass of direct interest in value chains as they emerge. Through this SerDEV will not only build on its expertise core to the success of its own integrated value chain, but also protect the interests of network partners, including funders and investors.