AgriSETA Learner Connect: Meet a horticulturist

New podcast AgriSETA Learner Connect guides learners towards future-proof careers in agriculture

Not to be Missed

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Deciding on a future career is probably one of most difficult things in your life as a high school learner. Some of you will know almost instinctively what you want to do with your life and find happiness in your first choice. For most of us, though, it will initially be just about finding a good job.

If you’re lucky, you will choose a career that not only brings a good income, but also suits your true passions. And if you’re really clever, you will choose a career in the agricultural sector… No, seriously.

Over the next few weeks, Food for Mzansi and 19 different radio stations will take grade 8 to 12 learners on a journey to explore the world of work in the agricultural sector. Together, we will explore the hundreds of not-so-common agricultural careers as part of the brand-new AgriSETA Learner Connect campaign.

The goal is to empower learners – no matter where in the country you might be. You will have access to information and get first-hand knowledge on the different opportunities available in agriculture. To help guide you, we will particularly focus on the scarce and critical skills needed in Mzansi. This is important because it’s much smarter to choose a future career for which there is a big demand.

If you miss the interviews on the radio, you can also catch them as easily downloadable podcasts on most of the major platforms where you’re already hanging out. There are links to the first episode further down in this article, but you can also just search for AgriSETA Learner Connect on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Alternatively, just listen right here, right now.

Our first AgriSETA Learner Connect guest is Jacky Goliath, managing director of De Fynne Nursery outside Paarl in the Western Cape. Her journey started in agricultural research, and she then moved to growing fynbos in her own backyard.

Today, she is an award-winning horticulturist who travelled around the world showcasing her produce, business and skills. What is a horticulturist? Wait, let’s ask Jackie to explain it in her own words.

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1Could you sum up your job for us?
I manage the production and operations of the 22-hectare farm. There is more to just having a green thumb to becoming a successful horticulturist. Horticulturists are agricultural scientists dedicated to finding better ways to grow, harvest, store, process and ship fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants. We study and use the disciplines of plant propagation and cultivation; crop production; plant breeding and engineering; biochemistry of plants; and plant physiology.

2So, what does the day-to-day of your job entail?
Managing my staff, monitoring productivity, analysis of reports, costings for prices, financial planning and the execution thereof. I do product planning, monitor and evaluate productivity and build the capacity of my staff. I engage with clients and suppliers, monitor safety aspects and do crisis management. I’m also in charge of human resources management, vehicle and infrastructure maintenance, irrigation management, and so much more.


What qualification do you need for this career?
A lot of experience is great, but I also have a degree in horticulture and experience in both horticulture and agriculture. An agricultural degree is very useful.

4What are the character traits you need to be great at your job?
Passion for what you do. Communication skills, people skills and being able to function in very stressful situations. You need to be pro-active, excellent at planning and adaptable. You have to be computer literate and adept at record keeping and administrative skills. Negotiation skills and firm decision making and leadership skills are essential.

5What subjects do I need to become a horticulturist?
It’s best to contact different universities directly for their unique entry requirements, but I recommend that you have mathematics and life sciences.

6What do you love about agriculture as a space to work in?
There is never a dull moment in agriculture. You won’t get bored. As agriculture is very dependent on the climate, a slight change in the environment brings on so many variations. We, as farmers, need to react to that. The fact that I get to be outside and experience nature first hand is such a privilege, with the thought and knowledge of putting food on South Africa’s table.

7Don’t be modest, tell us about your proudest career moments?
I have been privileged to have been able to travel in Africa to do agricultural training and the rest of the world to do the marketing of these agricultural products. I was awarded various accolades from within the sector for excellent work done.

8What do you do when you’re not at work?
I love walking my dogs and being outside in nature.

9Any advice for young people who are inspired by your career story here on AgriSETA Learner Connect?
If you are a nature lover, then this is the way to go. Be aware that it is very hard work, but very rewarding. As you are working with living organisms, there is so much excitement and constant new things occurring. You must have a passion for what you do. Agriculture is not just about getting dirty. There are different aspects of agriculture – computers, drones, irrigation systems, human resources, soil and disease analyses, etc. It is very rewarding to help to put food on people’s tables.

10Where can I study to become a horticulturist? Firstly, you should know that the study of horticulture includes eight areas that are grouped into two broad sections – the ornamentals and the edibles. A career in horticulture can encompass many things: producing and selling plants for either food or decoration; genetic engineering; landscape design; selling plants and advising customers in nurseries; tending to plants in parks and gardens.

North-West University
Bachelor of Science: Agriculture
University of Pretoria
Bachelor of Science: Agriculture
University of Stellenbosch
Bachelor of Science: Agriculture
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Bachelor of Science: Agriculture
Cape Peninsula University of Technology
National Diploma: Horticulture; Bachelor of Technology: Horticulture
Tshwane University of Technology
National Diploma: Horticulture
Durban University of Technology
National Diploma: Horticulture; Bachelor of Technology: Horticulture
National Diploma: Horticulture; Bachelor of Technology: Horticulture
Lifestyle College
Learnerships: Horticulture
Gardening and Horticulture Certificate
The School of Garden Design
Courses in Garden Design
Elsenburg Agricultural College
Diploma: Horticulture
Cedara Agricultural College
Diploma: Horticulture

How to listen to AgriSETA Learner Connect:

Option 1: Click here to listen on Spotify (all mobile and other devices).
Option 2: Click here to listen on any Apple device.
Option 3: Click here listen using this player. Just click “play”.

Catch AgriSETA Learner Connect on these radio stations:

  1. Waterberg Stereo: Bela Bela, Brits, Naboomspruit, Pietersburg, Pretoria, Thabazimbi, Tzaneen  – 104.9 FM
  2. Waterberg Stereo: Thabazimbi, Naboomspruit – 104.9 FM
  3. Laeveld Stereo: Nelspruit – 100.5 FM
  4. Lichvaal Stereo: Lichtenburg – 92.6 FM
  5. Overvaal Stereo: Viljoenskroon, Parys – 96.1 FM
  6. Maluti FM: Bethlehem – 97.1 FM
  7. Rosestad FM: Bloemfontein – 100.6 FM
  8. Wild Coast FM: East London – 98.6 FM
  9. Gamka FM: Oudtshoorn – 87.6 FM
  10. Kouga FM: Humansdorp – 97.8 FM
  11. Eden FM: Hessequa, Kannaland, Karoo, Oudtshoorn, Plettenbergbaai, Riversdale, Uniondale – 93.8 FM
  12. Radio Overberg: Bredasdorp – 98.4 FM
  13. Caledon FM: Caledon – 89.3 FM
  14. Whale Coast FM: Hermanus – 96.0 FM
  15. West Coast FM: Vredenburg – 92.3 FM
  16. Lara FM: Springbok – 91.6 FM
  17. NFM: Okiep – 98.1 FM
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