The Cape of Good Hope Agricultural Society (later Agri-Expo) was establish in Cape Town on 29 November 1831 at a meeting about the important role of agriculture in the economy of the Cape Province. The main objective of this Society was to support the sustainability of all sectors of agriculture in the Western Cape. To this day, the Society’s objectives have remained the same and it is still committed to supporting agriculture through sustainable projects and new and innovative events and expos. Agri-Expo is proud to be highly successful in reaching its goals.
The Society supports viable show societies in the Western and Northern Cape, that are members of the Society, through performance-based funds according to a clearly defined grading system to ensure the survival of country shows.
Agricultural societies in South Africa identified the need to involve children of all ages with the primary aim of cultivating an affinity for agriculture. Opportunities are created for school-going children and youth to participate in extra-curricular agricultural activities in order to develop a range of skills and encourage teamwork. The Society is the primary sponsor of the independent Western Cape Agricultural Youth Society.
The Society is involved in various agricultural sectors, presenting shows and expos that showcase a wide range of products and services.
The Society works closely with agricultural schools and encourages learners to study agriculture. A small part of this comprehensive project is the granting of academic bursaries, study loans and incentive awards. Bursaries are awarded per school for Grades 8 to 12 and do not only focus on the three top achievers per grade, but also on three learners per grade who are performing above their potential.
Agri-Expo also supports the upgrading and expansion of learner facilities. The unveiling of the Boland Sports Centre at Boland Agricultural High
School, and the Agri-Expo Club House at the Oakdale Agricultural High School are two of the most exciting projects of this year.
Liaison with breed societies takes place on a regular basis. The Society assists country member shows to host various championships and auctions
in order to help with stock improvement. The secretariat of the Western Cape Hereford Club is based at the Society’s offices in Durbanville.
Agri-Expo realises that agricultural practices can disturb the natural habitat of wildlife and especially endangered species, and therefore acknowledges nature conservation as an integral part of agriculture. The Society is involved in the establishment and extension of the Langerug Nature Reserve at the Boland Agricultural High School and also in the Riverine Rabbit Conservation Project in conjunction with the World Wildlife Federation. The IUCN 2002 Red Data List has upgraded the Riverine Rabbit’s classification from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered”, which means that it is now the most endangered mammal in South Africa – even more so than the black rhino.
The aim of the conservation project is to determine critical distribution areas and to examine the status of habitat in the Western Cape so that
sensible management decisions regarding conservation can be made.
Agri-Expo has a close working relationship with the Agricultural Writers Association and supports the objective of positive coverage of agricultural matters.
The role of women in agriculture is celebrated through competitions, such as the Woman Winemaker of the Year and the Female Farmer of the Year, which enjoyed wide media coverage. Agri-Expo continues to build on its partnership with the Western Cape branch of the WAA (Women’s Agricultural Association) and apart from attending their annual Congress, the Marketing Manager also co-ordinates the judging of their WAA Farming Partner of the Year competition. The Society is regularly mentioned in the WAA magazine, Huis & Haart, thanks to the supportive role it plays in hosting their congresses and training their judges.
The problems that confront the agricultural sector today adversely affect organised agriculture throughout South Africa. Great strides are being made to forge a closer working relationship with Agri Western Cape and the Ministry of Agriculture Western Cape.
Agri-Expo’s role is to be as supportive as possible and discussions among interested parties take place on a regular basis.