For Wafiq Essop, agriculture provides the perfect opportunity to employ and empower South Africa’s poor and disenfranchised. And as an agronomist, he is happy to be a part of the solution.
The 25-year-old grew up in the Stellenbosch winelands in the Western Cape, where he was surrounded by mountains and large tracts of farmland. His family eventually moved away from the area, but the agricultural seed had already been planted in his brain.
After high school, Essop pursued a degree in agriculture, plant, and soil sciences at Stellenbosch University. He graduated in 2017 and went on to complete an Honours degree in the same subject.
Essop says that the agriculture sector is incredibly varied and offers a wide range of opportunities for everyone.
“With agriculture, it’s one of those industries where you could literally do anything. Whatever you can think about, you can do. You can work in engineering, you can work as a marketer, you can work as a trader, you can work HR, you can work in admin, you can work in journalism.”
The industry is not necessarily as structured as other industries though, which is why anyone aspiring to work in agriculture needs to stay focused on where they want to go.
“If you want to make a success in agriculture, you are going to have to hyper focus on working with crops, or certain types of animals, or certain types of agriculture, etc. You really have to craft your own path, which makes it very fun. There’s no set path in agriculture, so you really need to make a mind map of where you want to go.”
If you are an aspiring agronomist or you’re looking for career advice for a high school learner in your life, check out Wafiq Essop’s advice on how to enter the profession.