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This is the fourth interview in the series about the Hortgro Science post-grad students.

By Thomas Davidson.

Dian Craven is a 24-year old student at Stellenbosch University doing his M.Sc in horticulture. He recently finished with data collection and is hoping to complete his degree by the end of this year.

Craven, hails from Kempton Park in Gauteng where he matriculated at Kempton Park High School.
“I’m originally from Cape Town but my family moved to Kempton Park while I was at school. I always wanted to come back to Stellenbosch.”

Why study agriculture?

“I don’t come from a farming background but my dad worked in the agricultural industry though it was more on the retail side. So during school holidays, I spent a lot of time with my dad visiting packhouses and producers so I guess that is where my passion for agriculture started. I think I’m one of the few people that study what I intended to study. I think I was about grade 10 or 11 when I decided on agriculture as a career.”

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

“I think agriculture is very exciting. As we are moving towards automation and other technology like EMI scanning, spatial imagery, yield estimation models, to name a few. So I think the ultimate is to practice precision farming and improve pack-outs and income per hectare or per ton. With new technology comes a lot of data, and it’s important to find ways to apply the data and technology in a practical sense. Science is a way of validating the technology or the movement towards technology. With science, we can find ways to implement technological advancements on a practical scale. Agriculture is a dynamic environment with many challenges, with the practical application of science we’ll be able to negotiate some of these challenges more accurately.”

Your future goals?

“I started working for Fruitways Agri-services as the research and innovation manager in January. I’m enjoying it a lot. There are many opportunities to learn and it’s a very stimulating environment to work in. I’m very open-minded about my future.  One day, I want to look back and see that I’ve made a positive impact.”

For more on the Hortgro Youth in Agriculture Series read other related articles with Portia Solomon, Ansuli Theron, and Buhle Ngidi.

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