taking hands – working together
Ploughing back into communities
There’s a saying that the future is carved out of the present moment and that tomorrow’s harvest depends on today’s ploughing and sowing. This is a key pillar at Monsanto South Africa.
Monsanto is a leading sustainable agriculture company that is focused on empowering famers with smart solutions to yield a better harvest while using resources more efficiently. Beyond supporting farmers the company is committed to investing in the welfare of local communities.
In 2018, the Monsanto partnered with members of Bonnievale, a small town in the Western Cape, to open a school to cater for the community.
The reality of having only one high school to feed the community, with an academic curriculum and limited space of acceptance, left hundreds of Bonnievale-children without hope for a better future.
In January the Jakes Gerwel Entrepreneurial and Technical School opened its doors to 240 grade 8 and 9 learners. The school is a partnership between the provincial education department and the Jakes Gerwel Entrepreneurship School Funding Trust – the former contributing 40% of the costs and the latter 60%.
Phillip Jonker, Wilhelm de Wet and Curren Kuhn from Weltevrede, donated twelve hectares on which to build the school and signed 99-year rent free lease agreement to support the cause. Môreson Grondverskuiwers did the land preparation and offered the use of their machines and operators at no costs.
Monsanto, through its Imbewu programme, donated R2 million to establish a state-of-the-art agricultural facility at the school. Imbewu is the Zulu word for a seed and through this generous donation, Imbewu is seeding growth and the potential for this community’s young people to become and do better.
The curriculum for grades 8 and 9 is exactly the same as any other mainstream school but eventually, learners will have the opportunity to choose between following the academic stream (NQF4 matric), technical stream (NQF4 matric) or the career-orientated artisan stream (NQF).
By taking hands and working together, the community and business made it possible to realize this amazing vision of hope. Hope that will ultimately bring about a new identity and the future orientated young people South Africa so desperately needs.
Investing in youth is like planting a seed
Investing in youth is like planting a seed which will grow into a tree that will benefit the whole society. That is how Kobus Steenekamp, Business and Commercial Manager of Monsanto South Africa, explains why this foremost seed development company is so heavily invested in the youth of the country.
Monsanto has a youth development thrust which includes bursaries, internships, learnership programmes, assistance for students who want to attend agricultural congresses, boosts interest in biotechnology at schools and universities, sponsors agricultural clubs at universities, assists with the building of bathrooms at schools and maintaining of school busses. And much more.
Madelein du Plessis, Monsanto HR Manager, has a “great sense of fulfilment” when she is able to help with bursaries and link these with internships “to enable preparation for the world of work and see the successes they can achieve”.
There are two other major ventures that Monsanto is closely connected with – the Buhle Farmers’ Academy (BFA) and a high school in Bonnievale in the Western Cape. (See article on the left.)
The BFA trains new and aspiring farmers from across South Africa to run profitable and sustainable businesses by exposing them to technical, production, managerial, financial and marketing skills. Monsanto has been involved since 2 000, inter alia, by donating a research farm to start the campus on.
It is also involved with Khulisa Social Solutions. Here Monsanto has supported a scheme which aims to empower 120 post-matric girls by putting them through programmes focusing on personal development, IT knowledge, health, financial literacy and agriculture. Of these 28 entered BFA in 2017. At the end of their studies they will have set up cooperatives from which they can run businesses.
As CEO Steenekamp says: “We invest in the youth of today, to ensure the future, not only of this generation but of generations to come.