Through its AgriCareers roadshows, Food For Mzansi has ignited the aspirations of over 90 000 learners nationwide, encouraging them to explore diverse careers within South Africa’s agricultural sector. This impactful outcome has impressed leaders in agricultural education, praising the publication for inspiring future farmers, managers, researchers, extension officers, and economists.
Key stakeholders who contributed significantly to the success of the AgriCareers initiative paused to reflect on its profound impact, as the publication gears up to celebrate its fifth anniversary in grand style.
The fifth-anniversary gala dinner is scheduled for Wednesday, 6 December, at Diep In Die Berg in Pretoria East. Organisers emphasise that the event serves as a tribute to the emerging figures shaping the future of South African agriculture.
Raising awareness among youth
Food For Mzansi co-founder, Ivor Price, recounts the inception of the AgriCareers roadshow, which commenced in 2019 with a series of events in Reitz and Phuthaditjaba in the Free State. In this year, bolstered by VKB and Standard Bank’s support, the initiative expanded its reach to encompass four provinces.
Then, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, an online component was seamlessly integrated during the agricultural career exhibition at La Rochelle Girls’ High School in Paarl, Western Cape. AgriCareers thereafter became a national initiative, reaching all provinces.
Since then, AgriCareers continued to connect learners in grades 9 to 12 with universities, colleges and future employers – from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape, Upington in the Northern Cape, Clanwilliam in the Western Cape, Bothaville in the Free State, and Brits in North West, and more.
Standard Bank: Supporting every stage of AgriCareers journey
According to Keneilwe Mabona, a senior manager in Standard Bank’s agribusiness division, the annual AgriCareers roadshow shines light on the commendable work across the industry.
“School kids in South Africa are educated on the various job prospects within the agricultural value chain and can make well-informed decisions regarding their future occupations,” she said.
Standard Bank has supported Food For Mzansi’s AgriCareers initiative since its inception.
“At Standard Bank, we have a dedicated agribusiness division with highly experienced agricultural specialists and bankers who have been involved with the AgriCareer roadshows and have imparted learners with valuable insights on agricultural careers from a banking and specialist perspectives,” said Mabona.
She commended the publication for keeping true to its mission of promoting agriculture and raising awareness among youth on agriculture.
“Standard Bank takes pride in being a part of the work done by Food For Mzansi,” Mabona added.
Impact on agricultural education
Food For Mzansi’s AgriCareers roadshows has not only helped change the way young people view agriculture but also how they view educational and training opportunities. This is all while dispelling aged-old myths about South Africa’s agricultural sector.
Laurika du Bois, who heads up marketing at Agri Skills Transfer, said collaborative efforts between Agri Skills Transfer and Food For Mzansi have played a pivotal role in inspiring the next generation of farmers.
“Notably, the collaboration has evolved into the current Agri Skills Transfer and Food for Mzansi’s scholarships initiative. Currently, the partners are inviting grade 12 learners from across South Africa to apply for two-year scholarships offered to 20 select learners to study at Agri Skills Transfer.
“This initiative is a beacon of our dedication to breaking barriers and fostering opportunities for learners from rural areas. Together, we invest in the potential of young minds, empowering them to become the future leaders of South Africa’s agricultural landscape,” said Du Bois.
Nurturing ‘agri dreamers’ in all 9 provinces
Professor Adre Minnaar-Ontong, the head of plant breeding at the University of the Free State, travelled with AgriCareers to several provinces and shared her highlight has been meeting young “agri dreamers”.
“Meeting the farmers and hearing their stories and learning from them. One can never stop learning. There are so many highlights [of the years traveling as part of the AgriCareers roadshow].
“The best part of each engagement with these agri dreamers is to see their faces lighten up when they realise that they are worthy and can contribute to Mzansi’s well-being,” explained Minnaar-Ontong.
Shaping perspectives beyond primary agriculture
Meanwhile, Dr Magdeleen Cilliers, policy and research officer at the South African National Seed Organisation (Sansor), believes learners who attended these educational roadshows, now know there is more to agriculture than just primary agriculture.
“Sansor enjoys working with Food For Mzansi on raising awareness of agri opportunities as [the publication] can make an informative and perhaps heavy content session enjoyable for the learners as well as the industry.
“You can see that Food For Mzansi has an extreme passion for working with learners and they are making a big difference in the future of these learners so that South Africa can continue to be food secure for many years to come,” said Cilliers.
She also congratulated Food For Mzansi for its invested interest in agriculture, adding: “Mzansi is so fortunate to have you look out for our future and in the same breath impact food security and sustainability. Happy birthday.”
Get your tickets for 5th birthday gala
Food For Mzansi readers are invited to an unforgettable evening of celebration and culinary excellence. The gala dinner, a black-tie affair, includes a delectable three-course buffet, entertainment, and mingling with key players and decision-makers in South African agriculture.
Reserve your place at Food For Mzansi’s gala dinner for just R750. Tickets are conveniently available on Quicket or at any Pick n Pay store, including PnP Clothing, PnP Liquor, and PnP Express.
Sign up for Mzansi Today: Your daily take on the news and happenings from the agriculture value chain.