From Vereeniging to Kroonstad, nearly 500 Free State learners discovered a world of possibilities at the official kick-off of the 2022 AgriCareers roadshow yesterday. Presented by Food For Mzansi, the high-energy event introduced learners to a great diversity of study and career opportunities in agriculture.
Rathebe Kabela, one of the attending learners from Ngwathe Secondary School in Edenville, said he was now considering future possibilities in a sector that was not initially on his radar.
“I am happy that I have come here,” he said. “I have learned a lot. This has opened my eyes to new possibilities. I am [now] strongly looking at agriculture as my career choice.”
Proud AgriCareers partners
Powered by Laeveld Agrochem, the AgriCareers career fair introduced learners to many professionals who chose to pursue a life in the sector. This includes Shireen Moodley, a senior agribusiness analyst at Standard Bank, and Diana Mngomezulu, a plant scientist at the University of the Free State.
The AgriCareers roadshow is presented in partnership with King Price Insurance, Standard Bank and the South African National Seed Organisation (Sansor). The educational partners are AGRICOLLEGES international, Peritum Agri Institute, Stellenbosch University and the University of the Free State.
E.P. Nel, a representative of the Free State education department and chairperson of the South African Agricultural Teachers Union, said he was pleased to welcome AgriCareers back to the Free State.
“Many kids think agriculture is about dirt, not knowing there are professions in agriscience, agricultural economics, agro-technology and much more. Everywhere you go, there is a job in agriculture,” said Nel.
There is money in agriculture, said award-winning farmer Nompe Zim to great applause from learners. She reminded them that consistency and discipline were key, especially for those brave enough to choose the dairy industry.
“It is not about just feeding your livestock and milking them, but one must make sure that you produce high-quality milk which checks all the biosecurity standards. For you to meet these standards, you have to partner with various people who know things that you don’t have the expertise on, including nutritionists, veterinarians, and economists.”
Besides Zim, learners were also inspired by farmers Nkosana Mtambo, Lengau Mothiane and Grietha van Rensburg. They too encouraged them to choose a career in agriculture despite it being a tough industry to work in.
During a panel discussion, learners discovered that agriculture encompasses much more than farming. There are jobs in plant sciences, computer science, engineering, physics, human resources, marketing, biology, pharmaceuticals, journalism, insurance, and so many more.
“This is really important for young people to think about when they are deciding where their passions will take them in life,” said Food For Mzansi co-founder Ivor Price.
“Agriculture is a loaded industry. There are so many areas of expertise that are covered by one general term. What is great about that is the fact that there is room for so many people to work in the sector – and not everyone needed to get their hands dirty.”
Learners were amazed to learn how the banking and insurance industries formed a crucial part of the agriculture sector, also offering many in-demand careers. Among others, they were hanging on the lips of Liché Strydom, marquess polymath from King Price Insurance.
Representatives of various educational institutions were peppered with questions about everything from application procedures to subject choices. They discovered the exam-free study and gap-year options at Peritum Agri Institute, market-related courses at AGRICOLLEGES international and the in-demand agricultural sciences degrees at Stellenbosch University.
Furthermore, they were introduced to the art and science of improving agricultural and other plants by Dr Adré Minnaar-Ontong who heads up the plant sciences department at the University of the Free State. Plant breeding student Henry Basson also got to share his passion with learners.
Speaking to Food For Mzansi, farmer Grietha van Rensburg, who employs only women on her farm, described the event as encouraging and exciting.
“I see a hunger for knowledge in the eyes of the kids. The questions they have posed proved that this event was a success and worthwhile, particularly for the girls who can now see that farming is not only for boys, but they also have equal opportunities.
“For me, it is very encouraging. I also loved how the panellists have demonstrated that agriculture is not only about farming. There’s endless opportunities in it that can fit many personalities.”
Upcoming AgriCareers events
- Western Cape: Tue. 19 April 2022 | Charlie Hofmeyr High School, Ceres
- Northern Cape: Thu. 21 April 2022 | Douglas High School, Douglas
- Gauteng: Fri. 3 June 2022 | Katlehong Technical High School, Katlehong
- Eastern Cape: Thu. 14 July 2022 | Hoërskool Brandwag, Uitenhage
- North West: Fri. 15 July 2022 | Wagpos High School, Brits
- KwaZulu-Natal: Mon. 12 September 2022 | Cedara College of Agriculture, Pietermartizburg
- Mpumalanga: Wed. 14 September 2022 | Morgenzon Landbou Akademie, Ermelo
- Limpopo: Fri. 16 September 2022 | Merensky High School, Tzaneen
High schools who wish to register for any of the upcoming AgriCareers events can email email@example.com or WhatsApp the Food For Mzansi hotline on 071 147 0388. Learners also have year-round access to the AgriCareers platform with updated study tips and career information.