More than 3 000 enthusiastic learners representing many different Western Cape schools descended on the Sandringham farm just outside Stellenbosch for two fun-filled days of agricultural exhibitions, demonstrations and information sessions.
The learners visited the sixth Annual Livestock Agri-Expo, which also included no less than four different agricultural career sessions presented by Food For Mzansi, an initiative to introduce the nation to the unsung heroes of the agricultural sector.
15-year-old Asisize Mntumni from Kayamandi High School in Stellenbosch said she never knew that agriculture had so many exciting study and career opportunities. “I thought it would be a boring day with boring people telling us about animals. But I was pleasantly surprised!”
After being inspired by more than 15 exhibitors, including Food For Mzansi, Mntumni now considers a career in agriculture as a soil scientist. The gr. 10 learner said: “My grandmother farms with goats, sheep and vegetables in the Eastern Cape. It would be great to help her back home and to take her farming operation to higher heights.”
According to W.A. Hugo, a sheep farmer from the West Coast, the farming culture in particularly rural areas are dying. He believes it is high time that more young people are thoroughly exposed to the vast opportunities in the sector.
“People think that agriculture is hard work for little money. It is extremely difficult to get young minds interested (in the sector). Expos, such as this, are proving to be vital if we want to attract young farmers that will help grow and expand the sector,” Hugo said.
Sharing the same sentiments is Ettiene van Wyk, a sheep farmer from Marydale in the Northern Cape. Van Wyk, who is the son of two agricultural workers, addresses learners at the sheep shearing hub manned by BKB, a leading agricultural enterprise.
He said he felt honoured to inform learners about the countless opportunities in the sector. “However, I also realised that many of these children are not usually exposed to opportunities at all, and don’t know where and how to access information.”
Van Wyk added that it’s important for role-players to sow more seeds of interest to attract more young people to agriculture. “Amongst these learners are future farmers, but they don’t know where and how to access information.”
Food For Mzansi editor Dawn Noemdoe said she and her team were inspired by the enthusiasm of the thousands of learners who embraced the full Annual Livestock Agri-Expo experience.
Noemdoe said: “We had so much fun, and also equipped every learner with our very own agricultural career guide. It shows them that there’s literally an A to Z of study and career opportunities available in the sector. We will continue challenging stereotypes about farmers and agriculture, but most importantly, we will continue inspiring the nation.”
You can still visit Agri-Expo Livestock at Sandringham outside Stellenbosch until tomorrow (Saturday 12 October 2019).
The event is considered a unique opportunity where the public can experience the total value chain of different livestock industries. This year, a total of 30 different championships, competitions and activities are presented. Visitors can see the country’s top animals of various breeds compete with 20 breeders’ societies involved.
Highlights include the biggest dairy show in SA, the biggest beef cattle interbreed championships of its kind, as well as the biggest rabbit show in the Western Cape, the Cape Rabbit Club’s Spring Championship show with 12 rabbit breeds. New this year is the first South African Merino Youth Competition, the Cape Arabian Horse Championships and the Milk Producers’ Organisation (MPO) Nedbank Stewardship Awards.
“Livestock’s goal is to provide South Africa’s top breeders with a world-standard platform to showcase their animals and market the breeds, but also to engage the youth in various facets of the agricultural sector with training and knowledge transfer forming an integral part of the expo,” said Johan Ehlers, Chief Executive Officer of Agri-Expo.
“The farmer and the public are brought together here. Visitors can look forward to more than 150 exhibitors and meeting 300 farm animals up closely, even behind the scenes such as at the washing bay and the milking parlor. Livestock is a wonderful, honest agricultural experience.”