‘There’s more to agriculture than just gumboots and overalls’

Learners from Pearston and Graaff-Reinet discover the value of agriculture in small communities

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Shalton Klassen, a learner from Nqweba Secondary School in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, says he has been planting vegetables in their family garden since September 2016.

“I sell the vegetables to my community and use the money to buy stationary items and sometimes sweets too,” he says.

Today he was one of the hundreds of learners we met on the second day of the Eastern Cape leg of the VKB Food For Mzansi Agri Career Roadshow presented in partnership with the provincial Department of Education.

These two learners attended the Agri Career Roadshow in Graaff-Reinet and were totally surprised at the various career opportunities within agriculture.

Klassen’s vegetable garden was a project he undertook after one of his close friends showed him a vegetable garden he had started. The gr. 10 learner says it wasn’t easy starting a garden. “I didn’t have money for seeds and the ground I planted on was not fertile enough, so I had to thoroughly work the ground for my garden to be a success.”

Another learner, Vuyokazi Kiyose, says she wants to go into agriculture after matriculating, but is not yet completely sure about her choice. “My father is a farmer too. He grows vegetables and sells them the community,” Kiyose says.

Food for Mzansi's Kobus Louwrens (third from left) with delegates from the Eastern Cape Department of Education.
Food for Mzansi’s Kobus Louwrens (third from left) with delegates from the Eastern Cape Department of Education. On the far right is Andre Bouwer, a counselling psychologist at the department.

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The gr. 11 learner adds that they’ve been farming since 2016 and that she is happy to help her father with his vegetable garden. “It brings me joy to see the community benefiting from it,” she explains.

There is a stigma attached to agriculture and this needs to change, says Sithembele Mpokeli from the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, who visited the career roadshow. “We need to let young people know that there’s more to agriculture than just gumboots and overalls. We need to transfer the right skills to students and make sure that they are well equipped with the right information pertaining agriculture.”

Food For Mzansi co-founder Kobus Louwrens with Johan Mellet from MSD Animal Health.
Food For Mzansi co-founder Kobus Louwrens with Johan Mellet from MSD Animal Health.

Food For Mzansi, along with 22 other exhibitors, were amazed by the zeal and commitment these schoolchildren showed to their futures.

Reneline Hendricks, who is in gr. 11, she her community is faced with many challenges and a lot of children are not following their dreams. “The opportunities here are limited and I would like to work in media as a presenter one day, to motivate young people to follow their dreams regardless of their circumstances.”

Sizwe Jonas, who is the principal of Pearston Secondary School, says there are many learners in the community who are showing interest in agriculture. Because of this the school has started offering agricultural sciences as a subject to learners. “Leaving here today, we hope that learners will be enlightened about the career paths in agriculture as well as the various other career opportunities that are out there.”

Food For Mzansi is looking forward to meeting even more learners at the following stops on our VKB Food For Mzansi Agri Career Roadshow. Late registrations are still accepted for the scheduled Western Cape and Limpopo career days.


Tuesday, 30 July 2019, Hoër Landbouskool Paarl, Paarl

Wednesday, 31 July 2019, Bastiaanse Secondary School, Beaufort West


Tuesday, 6 Augustus 2019, Merensky High School, Tzaneen

Wednesday, 7 August 2019, Settlers High School, Settlers

  • For more information e-mail ivor@foodformzansi.co.za.
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