24th – 28th June 2024   •   Durban, South Africa

SAI Platform Annual Event 2023

Transforming the Food System: A Deep Dive into the Practicalities of Regenerative Agriculture

SAI Platform Members Only   •   #SAIPlatform2023

Kathy Hurly

Rural Economic Activist and Agricultural Development Programme Leader

Dr Kathy Hurly (PhD) is a director and co-Founder of Gene-Smart.

GeneSmart is a small consulting company aimed at providing sustainable solutions to complex rural challenges. Sustainable in terms of resource utilisation and economic viability. Most solutions are aimed at creating or supporting agri-entrepreneurs who are catalysts for the rural economy as well as key players in rural safety and security. Focussing on women and youth and working with organised agriculture, private sector funders and agri-chain partners and collaborators.

The Women and Youth in Rural Entrepreneurship (WYRE) Programme is one example of a platform that is aimed at supporting rural entrepreneurship. The programme, commissioned by the KwaZulu-Natal Organised Agricultural Union, has successfully trained and supported 1500 women and youth since 2021. It provides a foundation for participants in leadership and basic business administration, leading to responsible and accountable leaders in rural business and communities. Local specialists provide technical support. The basic philosophy being that if you cannot lead yourself, you cannot lead a business or a community.

Dr Kathy Hurly’s knowledge and experience has been gleaned from a 30-year career in agriculture, primarily in the sugar industry, which saw her manage the sugar industry agronomic and economic extension service as well as components like land reform, rural development, institutional support, and knowledge management.

She sits on the Boards of AgriSA NPC, the national body representing organised agriculture, AgriSAEnterprises Pty Ltd, an organisation providing tailor made commercial solutions for the agricultural value chain, Future Farming NPC aimed at providing training and development solutions in Africa, and Kwanalu, the provincial organised agriculture body.

Through all her activities, Dr Kathy Hurly is actively building relationships with farmers. Farmers of the present and the future, the farmers who will feed their communities and towns, supplementing the contribution of the commercial sector who have the scale and resources to supply local and international markets, allowing small-scale farmers to grow their contribution at their own pace.

She believes that this type of engagement where agriculture is the common ground provides space to build trust while restoring dignity and respect to youth and women, through self- employment and job creation. She is providing the tools that will enable the next generation and strengthen the rural economy.