Farm­ing as a ca­reer planted in young minds

Vuk'uzenzele - - Rural Developmg Enetranld Land Reform - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

A KWAZUlU-nA­TAl pro­gramme plans to change the im­age of farm­ing among young peo­ple and ex­pose them to the many job op­por­tu­ni­ties in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor.

The lives of young KwaZulu-Na­tal res­i­dents pas­sion­ate about farm­ing are set to change for the bet­ter, thanks to the prov­ince’s young farm­ers’ de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme.

The pro­gramme is a part­ner­ship be­tween the KwaZulu-Na­tal De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment (DARD) and Den­mark’s Dalum Agri­cul­tural Col­lege – the largest and old­est agri­cul­tural col­lege in Den­mark.

While the ini­tial fo­cus of the pro­gramme was the de­vel­op­ment of young farm­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing in the live­stock sec­tor, it has now been ex­panded to in­clude agro-pro­cess­ing.

MEC for Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Themba Mthembu said this part­ner­ship would strengthen KwaZulu-Na­tal’s ca­pac­ity for agribusi­ness and agro-pro­cess­ing.

“The Dan­ish agri­cul­tural sec­tor has vast in­ter­na­tional agri­cul­tural and agribusi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence; 20 per cent of Dan­ish pro­duc­tion is per­formed abroad.

“Den­mark has valu­able knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence in ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy, an­i­mal wel­fare sys­tems, food safety sys­tems, trace­abil­ity cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, farm waste man­age­ment and al­ter­na­tive en­ergy tech­nol­ogy,” the MEC said.

The pro­gramme would con­tinue for the next three years, with fund­ing pro­vided by DARD.

Chang­ing the face of farm­ing

It was im­por­tant to the de­part­ment to change the im­age of farm­ing, MEC Mthembu said.

“The prov­ince’s strat­egy for agrar­ian trans­for­ma­tion recog­nises that the fu­ture of agri­cul­ture in the prov­ince de­pends on grow­ing the num­ber of young farm­ers,” he added.

The av­er­age age of South African com­mer­cial farm­ers was around 63, the MEC noted. “It is im­per­a­tive that we as gov­ern­ment, in co­op­er­a­tion with the farm­ing sec­tor, find ways to at­tract young peo­ple to farm­ing and open up op­por­tu­ni­ties to them.”

He added that for South Africa to achieve food se­cu­rity and for agri­cul­ture to be­come a cat­a­lyst for eco­nomic growth in the coun­try, the par­tic­i­pa­tion of young peo­ple was crit­i­cal.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties needed to be more than sim­ply train­ing peo­ple for jobs. “They must en­cour­age young peo­ple to be­come agri­cul­tural en­trepreneurs,” MEC Mthembu said.

“Given our coun­try’s his­tory, most young peo­ple view agri­cul­ture as work for labour­ers.”

The de­part­ment also in­tended to ed­u­cate learn­ers in pri­mary school. “Our plans in­volve ca­reer guid­ance to make the learn­ers aware of the pro­fes­sional as­pects as well as the busi­ness and sci­en­tific na­ture of the sec­tor.

“In KwaZulu-Na­tal they will cer­tainly be given spe­cial at­ten­tion and sup­port as we en­deav­our to grow our fu­ture farm­ers,” the MEC said.

Young­sters se­lected for the young farm­ers’ de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme must:

• be in­volved in agri­cul­ture, ei­ther as a land-re­form ben­e­fi­ciary or pri­vately, • have ma­tric with math­e­mat­ics and sci­ence (agri­cul­ture would be an added ad­van­tage),

• have a good com­mand of

English,

• have 12 months’ work ex­pe­ri­ence, and

• be a South African cit­i­zen.

Young peo­ple in KwaZulu-Na­tal stand to ben­e­fit from the young farm­ers’ de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme.

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