AgriSETA Learner Connect: Meet an agricultural technician

Gary Patience's secret sauce as a farmer is the fact that he's a qualified agricultural technician

Not to be Missed

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The 30-year-old Gary Patience was destined to become a farmer. Having been raised in a farming family, it was only a matter of time before he joined his mother, Therecia, as co-owner of the GT Agri Group.

Together with their team, Patience and his mom farms with Dohne Marino sheep and Red and Black Angus cattle in Saron, exactly 99km from Cape Town. Besides the fact that he is simply a great guy, a part of his success is that he is also a qualified agricultural technician.

Gary Patience (right) and his mother, Therecia, farms livestock on their 50-year-old family farm, GT Agri Group in Saron, Western Cape. Photo: Supplied

Chill, we can literally hear you saying, “An agricultural what-what?” It’s a big job with even bigger opportunities for those who are brave enough to consider it. Agricultural technicians assist farmers in their work and help with the collection of information. They maintain and repair agricultural facilities, equipment or tools to ensure operational readiness, safety and cleanliness.

Patience graduated from Northlink College as an agricultural technician in 2013. How did he end up choosing this course? “My dad thought that I should have something to fall back on should farming not work out. This degree gives me an advantage. Because I understand machinery and instead of outsourcing things, I am able to fix my own equipment.”

Gary Patience (left) with his committed team of agriworkers, Jason Pedro (middle) and Julie de Bruin (right)
Gary Patience (left) with his committed team of agriworkers, Jason Pedro and Julie de Bruin. Photo: Supplied

Over the next two months, high school learners from across Mzansi will discover some of the coolest study and career opportunities within the agriculture sector. This is thanks to the brand-new AgriSETA Learner Connect presented in partnership with Food For Mzansi and 19 different radio stations.

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Cool, right? That means you can explore the diverse career options in the agricultural sector every single day, right here on Food For Mzansi or live on radio. AgriSETA Learner Connect is also available for free on your favourite podcast channels, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Alternatively, just listen right here, right now.

Food for Mzansi’s editor, Dawn Noemdoe, says so far the response to the AgriSETA Learner Connect has been nothing but amazing. “It’s great! And the beauty is that learners from grades 8 to 12 are on the same journey discovering the wonderworld of agriculture – a world of opportunities that many miss out because they make the mistake in thinking it is not for them.”

Learners will access information and gain first-hand knowledge on various opportunities available in agriculture right from the horse’s mouth. We chat to young movers and shakers who are actually already working in this jobs requiring skills that are considered scarce and critically important to South Africa’s future.

Ok, now it’s over to Gary Patience for today’s AgriSETA Learner Connect.

1Could you sum up your job for us? In my role as an agricultural technician, I troubleshoot, repair and maintain all agriculture equipment and implements on our farm. Agricultural technicians can also assist farmers with a variety of tasks related to different aspects of agriculture. These include planning, research and the application of agricultural knowledge. They help farmers to make the best use of their land without damaging it.

2So, what does the day-to-day of your job entail? My job entails driving to different farms where our services are needed. I write up daily job cards, start troubleshooting, and write out quotes for the service. I then order the parts and complete the repair work and test to see if the problem is solved. I also set up new equipment for farmers or assist with settings and adjustments to better the efficiency of equipment and implements.


What qualification do you need for this career? When I started out, we needed a matric certificate with mathematics and science or a national technical certificate level 3, also known as a N3 certificate.

4What are the character traits you need to be great at your job? You must be hardworking, and be able to trust in your own abilities to find the fault and complete the repair. You also need to be a self-driven, loyal person with integrity and a big sense of responsibility. It is important that you do not take risks with the safety of yourself, customers or fellow workers.

5What subjects do I need to become a agricultural technician? Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements, but recommended subjects include mathematics, physical science, life sciences and, if you’re lucky enough to be at a school who offers it, agricultural sciences.

6What do you love about agriculture as a space to work in? Ever since I was a child, I always worked on the farm, doing small repairs to our tractors and equipment. I love how all farmers are working towards a common goal. That is to produce food and to feed the world. Most people in the agriculture sector love to share knowledge and info.

7Don’t be modest, tell us about your proudest career moments? When I challenged and passed my trade test in 2013 was a big moment in my career. I also worked in Canada for three years as an agriculture and heavy-duty technician. There they have three levels of technicians based on your experience: A, B or C. I managed to work my way up to A-rate in one year, which was a big moment for me. I now own my own agri-business that consists of a livestock farm and repairing agri-equipment for commercial farmers in our area.

8What do you do when you’re not at work? I’m pretty much always working, but it doesn’t feel like work. Whenever I am not fixing equipment, I am busy on the farm riding my quad bike or cycling with my mountain bike.

9Any advice for young people who are inspired by your career story here on AgriSETA Learner Connect? A mistake that I made was setting the bar way too high for myself and I could not reach my goals in the short time I set out to achieve them. This, in turn, made me very negative and miserable. My advice is to set goals for yourself and career but be realistic with the time frames you set out to achieve them.

10Where can I study to become an agricultural technicianTo become an agricultural resource technician or an agricultural extension technician, you can study at a TVET college, like I did, or go to universities such as Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, Tshwane University of Technology, Unisa or Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein.

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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