A new partnership between the Sernick Group and Future Farmers is opening up commercial cattle farming to young people in the Free State that have thus far been excluded even from emerging farmer assistance programmes.
Sernick has for the past two years been involved in the Sernick Emerging Farmers Programme, which is supported by the Jobs Fund at National Treasury. Through the programme they are assisting 660 emerging farmers to become established commercial farmers, with the first 50 due to reach this status by 2020. All the beneficiaries have access to land and/or cattle.
The Future Farmers Foundation was founded in 2006 by Judy Stuart, a farmer from Howick in Kwazulu-Natal. The organisation is aimed at providing meaningful employment for Future Farmers and develop them to their full potential.
According to Petro Naudé, project manager of the Sernick programme, their current model excludes the youth, especially those with limited to no access to formal education, cattle or land.
“In our partnership with Future Farmers we can now address this crucial area and together we can create access to employment and relevant training for youngsters with a keen interest in agriculture.”
Together the two organisations will establish the Future Farmers concept in the Free State, with Sernick hosting the provincial Future Farmers office. Sernick will also sponsor Future Farmers’ employee in the office until December 2020, to support the establishment of the organisation in Central South Africa.
“In this way we hope to create many permanent jobs as well as provide opportunities for the youth that they never had before,” says Naudé. “Future Farmers will find, screen and select youngsters with an interest in a career in agriculture. Future Farmers will also find commercial farms on which to place these candidates for two years. If the candidate is successful in achieving the objectives of Future Farmers, they will be sent abroad to undergo an internship on an overseas farm.”
According to Stuart, Future Farmers uses an apprenticeship model to qualify farm managers who are capable of running commercial operations. If a candidate shows passion, commitment and potential after the two-year apprenticeship, they are sent overseas for practical experience.
Future Farmers currently has 40 programme participants gaining invaluable experience at commercial farms in the United States and Australia. Stuart believes this is a vital part of the programme as it gives participants the opportunity to expand their world vision and understand how South Africa fits into the agricultural puzzle.
“Ultimately our goal is to give young people from impoverished backgrounds, that have the passion and drive, the opportunity to be commercial farmers.” – Judy Stuart
Nick Serfontein, chairperson of the Sernick Group, is a vocal supporter of helping emerging farmers. He says the Sernick Emerging Farmers Programme creates jobs, but more importantly it creates hope.
“All commercial farmers want to make a difference, but they don’t know how. This is possibly our last chance to get it right. We must believe we can, and we must push on because we can make a difference in agriculture.”
The requirements to apply and qualify for a Future Farmers apprenticeship are:
- They should be between 18-26 years of age.
- They should be passionate about farming.
- They should have a responsible attitude towards work.
- They should not be married nor have children.
- They should not smoke, drink alcohol or use recreational drugs.
- They should not have a criminal record.
Applicants and possible mentors or sponsors can contact Isabel Boshoff for further information by calling 056 216 2620 or visit the Sernick Empowerhouse office, 50 Reitz Street, Kroonstad.