Articulate and engaging, Brylyne Chitsunge is a powerful voice for the African smallholder.
British educated and the daughter of an African diplomat, she spent 16 years in the UK living in North London and studying at Anglia Polytechnic and Hertfordshire University.
With a PhD in molecular medicine, her house was adorned with photos of her with world leaders such as former South African president Nelson Mandela and former US president Bill Clinton.
Sitting on a 1,000-hectare (2,470-acre) farm close to Pretoria, she now owns cattle and a fish farm and also grows vegetables. But her real power comes as a lobbyist in Government and she regularly meets with South African Ministers to champion the needs of the rural poor and subsistence farmers.
A ‘nuclear networker’, as one Australian journalist observed, she articulates many of the same frustrations as farmers in Britain, with a sense of dislocation from politics and policies which bear little resemblance to reality in the field.
Despite the multitude of challenges South Africa faces, its farmers are tackling the future head on.
Ben Briggs reports from the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists annual congress in Pretoria and Cape Town.
She said: “The South African Government needs to partner with farmers and we need representation because they are doing it [policy making] with the exclusion of the farming community.
“We need to narrow the gap between reality and policy so we have tangible outcomes. The media here should focus more on food and farming rather than rape and murder.”
And she stressed the need to give strength to women who made up 70 per cent of Africa’s farming population, with men often working in urban areas.
She added: “We also need to educate children in schools about farming so they can go home and tell their parents about where their food comes from and what goes in to producing it.
“The blacks in South Africa do not know where their food comes from and we need to change that.”