“Agriculture holds the key to the future of this country. It has the potential to resolve and unlock many of our most pressing problems, such as land reform, food security, job creation, and how to manage climate change, to name but a few. Therefore, I believe you are in the right place at the right time.”
This was the message from Hortgro Executive Director Anton Rabe to agriculture students last night. Rabe was speaking in Stellenbosch at a function held by the deciduous fruit industry for bursary holders.
“Agriculture as a collective can change this country for the better, that is why we invest in our youth through bursary schemes and by creating opportunities for our students to plug-in to openings created by the industry,” he said.
“Agriculture cannot change South Africa alone, and the Government also has a role to play to ensure a stable policy environment and sustainable economic growth opportunities via improved market access and free trade agreements, thereby creating opportunities for agriculturists to do business in. The rest is up to us. We need to link you to a job as soon as possible and ensure that you gain experience.”
Hortgro currently supports 31 undergraduate students and 59 post-graduate students with a bursary scheme and research projects valued at R5 m. Over the past six years, 406 under- and post-graduate students benefitted from the scheme at a cost of more than R21 m to the industry – of which R15 m was allocated to post-graduate students linked to the industry’s research programmes. The bursary funding scheme forms part of the industry levy, with additional support from AgriSETA and the Deciduous Fruit Industry Development Trust.
Rabe said that the deciduous fruit industry has a proud track record of students ending up in the industry in “one way or another” thereby creating much-needed human capital that is needed to ensure the future of the deciduous fruit industry.
Pictured here: Hortgro Chairperson Nic Dicey (middle) with students Chad van Wyk, Sakata Lebotse, Boitumelo Mokoena and Michaela-Anne White.