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Western Cape opens 120 farm gates for unemployed graduates

Dr Ivan Meyer, the Western Cape minister of agriculture, is on a mission to not only get more youth involved in the sector, but also to apply new technologies and drive innovation

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In massive effort to reduce youth unemployment, no less than 120 unemployed agricultural graduates in the Western Cape have now been placed at farms for work-integrated learning.

The graduate placement programme was officially launched by Dr Ivan Meyer, the Western Cape minister of agriculture, who was flanked by young talent who now have a second chance in lie.

Meyer said key objectives of the programme include facilitating the entry and active participation of talent in the agricultural sector, and to give unemployed agricultural graduates opportunities to gain job experience. It also bridges the gap of ageing producers and builds future agripreneurs, he said, adding that the programme is part of his department’s 100 days’ deliverable plan.

‘No’ to unemployed agricultural graduates in W. Cape

Speaking to Food For Mzansi, Meyer described the programme a beacon of hope for youth in agriculture. “This is a growing sector, and we do not want to see youth unemployed, especially agricultural graduates. This graduate internship programme forms part of (our strategy to) create safety, jobs, wellbeing and dignity. We believe this will go a long way in promoting your (workplace) internship journey within this department.”

Head of the department for agriculture in the Western Cape, Dr Mogale Sebopetsa.
The head of the department for agriculture in the Western Cape, Dr Mogale Sebopetsa. Photo: Food For Mzansi

Agriculture is a “sunrise sector”, said Meyer, “and the sun is coming up over you. As interns you are taking up the responsibility.” He told graduates that they are also helping he sector bridge a generational gap.

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“Since I took up the job, I said I wanted to make agriculture sexier. Sexy means three things. Getting more youth involved, applying new technologies within the sector and bringing forth innovation. I believe this programme will help us do just that.”

Agriculture is an applied science and therefore practical work is paramount, Meyer said, thanking the farmers from across the Western Cape who have agreed to place the interns on their respective farms.

‘Meaningful contribution to sector’

Meanwhile Dr Mogale Sebopetsa, head of the department of agriculture in the Western Cape, reminded participants that they have an opportunity to become meaningful players in the agriculture space.

“Our mission is to unlock the full potential of this sector, so that sector can bring about economic growth and also prosperity of our people. We therefore believe that with the opportunity granted to young people is a step in the right direction towards us achieving this particular mission.”

2021 graduate interns (from left) Aphelele Mhlekude, Ayakha Tshayingwe and Sinokuhle Jongo.
The 2020 graduate interns include Aphelele Mhlekude, Ayakha Tshayingwe and Sinokuhle Jongo. Photo: Food For Mzansi

Some of the programme participants also expressed their joy to Food For Mzansi. Asiphe Kamte, who formed part of the 2018 programme, said, “My motivation to the interns here is that all these development programmes are readily available, but it will require you, as an individual, to work hard, have a positive attitude, perseverance and be curious about the work you do in order to grow.”

Kamte, who now works as a project officer at the Deciduous Fruit Development Chamber, made an appeal to the interns to continue their studies. He added that their educational journeys should not end with their undergraduate studies.

New graduate intern, Sinokuhle Jongo, said she was most excited. “This is a great opportunity and I believe that I will gain more knowledge and experience which will eventually assist me in launching my own agricultural business one day.”

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Duncan Masiwa
Duncan Masiwa
DUNCAN MASIWA is a budding journalist with a passion for telling great agricultural stories. He hails from Macassar, close to Somerset West in the Western Cape, where he first started writing for the Helderberg Gazette community newspaper. Besides making a name for himself as a columnist, he is also an avid poet who has shared stages with artists like Mahalia Buchanan, Charisma Hanekam, Jesse Jordan and Motlatsi Mofatse.
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