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This is the third interview in the series about the Hortgro Science post-grad students. Buhle Ngidi told her story to Thomas Davidson.

Buhle Ngidi was born in Doordrift and grew up in Jamestown. When she was little the family moved to Welkom. Years later, during a family holiday in Cape Town, she told her parents that she wanted to stay in the Cape.  Her aunt found a school for her and since then, she has been a Capetonian.

At school, she soon learned that mediocre marks were not good enough for her. “I realised that if I pushed myself harder, I could do better. I realized that if I put the work in, I was capable of achieving any goal. It was an exceptionally motivating experience.”

Why study agriculture?

”It was a spur of the moment decision. I applied for physiotherapy, then my second choice was a BSC in life sciences, then my third choice was agri-science. I wanted to go into the sciences. There was a woman called Monica Basson who invited the top 30 students who applied for agri-science to see the different departments. They took us to Babylonstoren and showed us what agriculture entailed and I knew that that was what I wanted to do. You get to learn about the environment, you can help people and work outdoors. I’m definitely not going to be stuck in an office. So I decided; this is it. This is what I want to do.”

Your thoughts about the future of agriculture and the importance of science for the industry?

”I think it has to do with how our technology can improve productivity and create better working conditions. I also think it has to do with a move to a younger and more female industry. I see the integration of youth and the creation of easier entryways for young women to enter the agricultural industry as a definite way forward.

”Science provides us with the reasons as to why things are implemented. It provides the foundation for our practices. Like chilling, it helps you understand why chilling happens, how it affects dormancy and what the farmer can do to adapt his practices to the best possible outcome for the crop. You don’t trim an apple tree to look a certain way because it looks nice, you do it for a reason. It’s these reasons that form the basis of our practices in agriculture.”

Your future goals?

“After this degree, I’d like to start working. I want to work on a farm, I’d like to be a farm manager and one day, a technical advisor. My ultimate goal is to become a consultant or run my own farm and be a part of job creation and be my own boss. I’d like to do a PhD but not immediately, I’d like to gain experience first and encounter different perspectives before I begin that journey.”

For more on the Hortgro ‘Youth in Agriculture’ series read our second article with Ansuli Theron and our first article with Portia Solomon.

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