Young people of Mzansi, don’t sleep on the endless opportunities that await you in our country’s vibrant agricultural sector! This was the heartfelt call by industry professionals at the most recent leg of Food For Mzansi’s AgriCareers roadshow.
The event, hosted at the state-of-the-art Katlehong Engineering School of Specialisation in the bustling Gauteng township, featured leading agricultural economist Conce Morabe, who challenged learners’ misconceptions about agriculture.
And in true AgriCareers spirit, learners were bursting with questions trying to keep abreast with the countless possibilities available to them.
“No one wants to work in agriculture because they think that they are going to be dirty all day. But today you can see how fancy we look and that we even wear heels and travel in agriculture,” Morabe said laughing.
Learners were pleasantly surprised when Morabe told them that studying agricultural economics gave her a nice balance of options. She wasn’t sure whether she wanted to go the BCom route, and her decision to go the agri route paid off.
“Agricultural economics gave me that extra edge. It allowed me to still do accounting, statistics and economics. [But] when my friends were busy fighting to get one job in economics, I had options.”
Her options ranged from farm management, banking and agricultural advisory services, to farming itself. These are some of the career possibilities that await learners too if they decide on agricultural economics, Morabe pointed out to them.
“You can literally be a farmer if you really want to, or you can even trade. I don’t even know of one female or person of colour who is a trader in agriculture.”
Morabe pleaded with learners to take note of the endless opportunities within the sector, adding that, “in agriculture you are not boxed to doing one thing. Even if you are a soil scientist, you can do other things with your expertise.”
Career and study options
Donovan Erasmus, digital marketing and sales consultant at AGRICOLLEGES international, offered learners a rundown of their options if they wanted to study in agriculture.
Explaining how their institution worked, Erasmus said that it offered students affordable courses on agriculture through e-learning.
“It’s definitely a way of learning for the future, especially for those who are not able to study full time.
“As a student I was also in a position where I could finance my full-time studies. I needed to pay bills, my car and more. So online studying just made much more sense for me,” he said.
Erasmus also encouraged learners to do introspection before choosing a career in agriculture.
“I was careful about my decision on what I would be studying. I wasn’t ready to commit to a programme when I didn’t even know what I wanted out of life.
“So decide what kind of person you are, and [if you would] enjoy working in that particular field for the rest of your life,” Erasmus said.
Meeting farmers for the first time
In a township area like Katlehong, learners rarely get the opportunity to ask farmers tough questions. When award-winning vegetable farmer and owner of Oneo Farms, Eric Mauwane, and aquaponics farmer Gugulethu Mahlangu stepped to the stage, learners wasted no time.
Answering a question on climate change and the impact thereof on the agricultural sector, Mauwane said that climate change was real and that its impact was negative on him as a farmer.
“Thank you for that great question,” he said. “Climate change is something that we are all facing. It is here to stay, and we just need to manage it.
“It’s the same as when people say Covid-19 is here to stay [but] right now we are managing Covid-19.”
He went on to give learners examples of what happens to crops in the field as a direct result of climate change but also highlighted that everyone had a responsibility to do something about it. “It starts with how well we look after our environment.”
One of the learners in attendance, Peace Mbuyi said she had never met young, black farmers before.
“Today was very eye opening. When they introduced the farmers, I was expecting a white, older man with khaki shorts.
“I have never thought about a career in agriculture but after today I have some thinking to do. Today really exposed me to a world that I didn’t know much about,” Mbuyi said.
Schools, companies and other organisations who wish to participate in any of the upcoming AgriCareers exhibitions can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exhibitions for the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo are currently being planned.
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