By Grethe Bestbier
Over the past seven years, Hortgro has offered just under R26.5 million worth of bursaries to a total of 485 students.
This year alone, Hortgro spent R5.3 million on 27 undergraduate and 52 postgraduate students, the latter linked to Hortgro’s research programme.
Anton Rabe, Hortgro Executive Director, who spoke at a recent event for their bursary holders, expressed his pride in the bursary programme and what it aims to achieve. The event was attended by staff from Stellenbosch University, industry leaders, directors from South African pome and stone fruit boards, Hortgro management, and bursary holders.
“This is one of my favourite functions in the year where we are humbled by the little bit we can do with regard to training and empowering the next generation,” said Rabe. “I’m certainly proud of our bursary programme, and we will try our best to continue with this track record.”
Hortgro is also making progress in addressing the profile of their postgraduate students. Sixty percent of postgraduate bursary holders are black, more than half being black females.
Rabe welcomed Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Beverley Schäfer, as the guest speaker, emphasizing Hortgro’s strong partnership with her departments. This past ten years, Hortgro and the Western Cape Department of Agriculture has managed to create job opportunities by establishing just over 800 ha of stone and pome fruit planted – these orchards will have a production value of more than R5 billion over the life span of these orchards.
“We are working very closely together and I believe we are making a difference in the environment in which we operate,” Rabe said.
Schäfer thanked Hortgro for their commitment to investing in the future agricultural talent of the country. The Minister also stressed the need for young blood with the right skills to address global issues like climate change and food security. She encouraged the students to be optimistic, even when their choice of career seems difficult at times.
“Agriculture is a tough industry, but there are many exciting things happening within the agricultural space right now,” said Shäfer. “We’ve seen major development in research, agricultural science, and technology, opening up the doors to agricultural careers that up to now have never existed.”
Shäfer, who was previously the chairperson of the committee on economic opportunities, tourism, and agriculture, left the students with the thought that they should trust in themselves just as Hortgro trusts them.
“My hope for you is that you have the same optimism and the same trust in yourselves, your careers and in the industry. Yes, there are risks, but with experience and knowledge, you begin to mitigate those risks. So never stop learning, growing and seeking out new information and new ways of doing things.”
- Hortgro’s bursary scheme is a joint venture between the pome and stone fruit industries, Agriseta and the Deciduous Fruit Industry Development Trust.
Caption: Pictured here is Nicholas Dicey (Hortgro Chairperson), Minister Beverley Schäfer, and André Smit (Hortgro Stone Chairperson).