The Tsolo Agriculture and Rural Development Institute (Tardi) has partnered with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to provide animal health technicians with the skills they need to establish their own businesses.
This is the first time an agriculture training institution in South Africa will be collaborating with the FAO in such a programme. The initiative is aimed at strengthening animal health technicians through a new framework for which Tardi was awarded the contract to host the first training.
During the graduation ceremony for 49 Tardi students, Eastern Cape rural development and agrarian reform MEC Nonkqubela Pieters announced the partnership and highlighted its significance.
“I am happy to announce that Tardi has been identified as a critical stakeholder of the United Nations. This initiative is to create entrepreneurs responding to the changed South African Veterinary Council legislation, allowing animal health technicians to work for their own gain and can own primary animal health facilities. This is the first to occur in South Africa and Tardi being at the forefront of this game-changing initiative, is quite an achievement,” Pieters said.
Training starts soon
The first intake for the training is scheduled for May, with 50 unemployed animal health technicians, 25 Tardi graduates, and 25 North West University graduates expected to participate.
In addition to the partnership with FAO, Tardi principal Dr Toyota Ndudane has been appointed to an ad hoc group working on community animal health workers, a standardised curriculum and framework by the World Organisation for Animal Health. Ndudane will join a team of experts worldwide and chair virtual meetings from the World Organisation for Animal Health headquartered in Paris, France.
Advice from AgriSETA boss
Dr Innocent Sirovha, chief executive of AgriSETA, was the guest speaker for the ceremony. He emphasised the significance of education and community impact. During his speech, he encouraged graduates to become ambassadors for their communities and the sector.
Organisers remarked that as CEO of AgriSETA, Sirovha has played an integral role in shaping the training and development of the agriculture sector’s future leaders. Tardi’s recognition of his expertise further adds to his credibility as a valuable source of advice for graduates seeking to make a difference in their communities.
During the graduation ceremony, the overall best-performing student, Lilitha Xhumana from Mqanduli, expressed her joy with her achievement.
“It’s not been an easy journey, it’s been very hard – it needs a lot sacrifices, dedication and passion. Being in the veterinary world as a female at some point is very challenging because sometimes you feel like males are being more superior than females,” she said.
“I didn’t allow that to let me down because I’ve told myself I can do whatever men can do. The issue of gender doesn’t affect me. It’s a beautiful day and I’ve been waiting for it since the first because I told myself I’d graduate cum laude and that was a goal I never shied away from. It’s proof that if you plan your goals properly anything is possible.”
Graduate success rate
Masixole Basana, speaking on behalf of the class of 2022, emphasised the need for hard work and sacrifice, noting that their first year in 2020 was challenging due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“If you’re not willing to sacrifice, don’t come to Tardi. Yes, 2020 was tough, but here we are against all odds. This knowledge we got here will develop the community where we come from. Here at Tardi, you just arrive with your bags. When you apply at Tardi you don’t have to apply for a bursary, it is done here.
“There are people who have started their own businesses because of the stipends from the bursary suppliers and I have also created an NGO and donated to schools. Let’s go out there and make a difference, even if you are unemployed, do community service by helping people to understand animal diseases,” Basana said.
Tardi principal Ndudane commended the graduates, stating that around 60% of the 297 students who have graduated from Tardi since 2015 were employed in both the public and private sectors. He offered further advice to the graduates, stating, “My advice is to always be the most interesting person in the room because you should make your mark. Showcase your abilities, show the passion.”
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