By Kara van der Berg
Agriculture is the place to be. The sector has great opportunities, funding, and is the place where future leaders are grown.
This was the inspirational message to agriculture students at the Hortgro bursary function that was held at STIAS in Stellenbosch last night.
Over the past year Hortgro has spent just over R2 m on undergraduate bursaries and more than R4 m on post-graduate students. There are currently 36 undergraduate and 36 post-graduate students enrolled in various agriculture qualifications at different tertiary institutions across South Africa.
The bursaries are funded by Hortgro Pome, Hortgro Stone, Dried Tree Fruit and is augmented with funds from AgriSETA. Between 2013 and 2022, the total industry funding has been just over R43 million for bursaries that went to 704 students.
Speaking at the function, Hortgro Executive Director Anton Rabe, said that agriculture is “the place to be”.
“The world is soon going to find itself with too many people and too little food. Agriculture is going to become more important than ever to ensure food security for millions.”
He also pointed out the importance of investing in the future generation of South African agriculture industry leaders. “We still face many challenges: global logistics, the Russian/Ukraine war, and climate change. But we will get through this and are positive you will help us in that.”
A previous bursary recipient, Chad van Wyk, spoke about his experiences in agriculture thus far. “My parents took a huge gamble by supporting me in my first year at varsity. Money was tight but by getting this backing from Hortgro it gave me an incredible opportunity, he said, “To get funding to study is a privilege. So, make the most of this great opportunity. The bursary exists to ensure there are future leaders in our industry.”
Van Wyk is currently completing his masters while working at Provar, an independent cultivar evaluation company. “The Hortgro bursary is an investment in me. I see my work at Provar as paying back this investment to the industry. It is a great place to work in.”
The Western Cape Minister for Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, also shared his family’s journey into education and that by getting a degree “you are breaking the chains of poverty”.
“You, as agriculture students are creating wealth for your generation as well as the next. Bursary holders, I believe you are taking us into the future. I believe you will make a meaningful impact in our province and in our country. Unlock your potential and make the most of it.”