The Northern Cape will place no less than 75 unemployed agricultural graduates on various farms throughout the province. This announcement was made by Mase Manopole, provincial MEC for agriculture, environmental affairs, rural development and land reform.
Manopole recently welcomed the new crop of agricultural interns at the government-funded Blocuso Trust vineyard outside Keimoes.
She was accompanied by Lerato wa Modise, acting head of department, and Marius Louw, executive mayor of the Kai! Garib Local Municipality. Representatives of organised agriculture also attended.
The agricultural graduates will be placed at relevant smallholder and commercial-scale enterprises to undergo on-the-job training in production, agro-processing, farm management, governance, business and entrepreneurship.
They will be supported by experienced mentors.
Initially, when the department advertised the internships, more than 400 applications were received.
Most applicants came from the Frances Baard District Municipality, although John Taolo Gaetsewe, Pixley Ka Seme, ZF Mgcawu and the Namakwa district municipalities were also well represented.
Government made offers to 80 unemployed agricultural graduates, but in the end five declined after they received alternative full-time employment elsewhere. The remaining 75 will be placed on one of 16 participating farms for a two-year period.
Creating a new crop of entrepreneurs
Manopole pledged her department’s support to the participants. “Help us to create more job opportunities. Food security plays a critical part as we can’t operate and live without food,” she said.
According to the MEC, the department will support the graduates to develop bankable business plans with the help of economists and other experts during the last six months of their participation. This is aimed at boosting their entrepreneurial ambitions.
Furthermore, the agricultural graduates will further be linked to government support programmes relating to their chosen enterprises, as well as other potential funders, including the National Youth Development Agency.
In 2019, the department also recruited 80 unemployed graduates from across the Northern Cape. A total of 23 commercial farmers participated in this placement, with more than two-thirds of interns having already completed the programme. Six of them have since been head-hunted for full-time positions at, among others, Raisins SA and COFCO International.