The energetic and outgoing Thabo Skhosana sees himself not only as an up-and-coming farmer, but as someone who has the potential to bring food security solutions to Mzansi. The young farm manager of a dairy and beef farm near Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal is determined to be the change that the agriculture sector needs.
The 24-year-old graduate holds a diploma in agriculture specialising in crop and animal production from Cedara College in KZN. He says young people should grab the opportunities in the agriculture sector to better themselves.
True to his own advice, he is also working on establishing his own small commercial beef and stock project as a side-hustle.
Tiisetso Manoko: Your enthusiasm and energy for the sector is infectious! What motivated you to study agriculture in the first place?
Thabo Skhosana: Firstly, I enjoy working outdoors as I always refer to nature as my office. I find peace and harmony in working the land, especially knowing very well that one is working to put food in so many households in the country.
Also, [I appreciate] the freedom and liberty of being self-sufficient in growing my own food. Food security is a major issue in our country, and I am ready to roll up my sleeves and come with solutions for closing the gap of poverty in the country. The responsibility lies with us as young people – especially us who studied agriculture – to bring solutions for sustainable growth in the industry and increasing our food basket for generations to come.
Part of my pursuit in agriculture is to be an agripreneur and build a sustainable commercial farming business. This will empower more youth to join the industry and also create employment, thus alleviating poverty.
At Food For Mzansi we encourage high school learners to consider career opportunities in agriculture. What advice that you can share with young people who want to study agriculture?
Agriculture is a challenging profession, it requires discipline, dedication and determination. So, it is important for those who go to study agriculture to go there knowing that it is a lot of work that requires 100% concentration throughout.
We as farmers rely on external factors that are not within our control, such as the climate and rains. So when one comes into farming, they will need to deal with such issues as well as come up with innovative ideas of improving the lives of farmers.
We are faced with another pandemic, which is the high unemployment rate in our country. We therefore don’t need workers, but rather we need visionaries and entrepreneurs with solutions, and I want to promote the notion of self-sufficiency.
What is your view on the role of the “fourth industrial revolution” (4IR) in agriculture? Do you think there is a threat in the development of agri technology?
Traditional agricultural systems alone cannot satisfy the growing food needs without the productive support of innovative technological efficiency.
Food security is a crisis, we need to adapt with the times and 4IR brings convenience and efficiency. So no, it’s not a threat but rather an opportunity to grow and develop the agricultural system.
Contrary to popular belief, 4IR isn’t here to make the workforce redundant, but rather to aid farmers’ [quest] for efficiently.
Take drones for example, the farmer has an overview of the whole farm without having to drive out in the fields and waste fuel. Other equipment, such as pivots and livestock monitors can be monitored from an app on a phone, now that’s simply amazing to me!
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