Agriculture has not always been seen as a career of choice, especially to the younger generation. It is for this reason that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) introduced a variety of programmes to attract young people to the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.

Today, South Africa boasts skilled young employees across agricultural professions, farmers, doctoral student candidates in agricultural studies and researchers. They are all cohorts who come from the youth programme offered by the department. These programmes range from the External Bursary Scheme, Colleges of Agriculture experiential training, internships, professional development programmes, career awareness programmes and international training programmes.

At the #Agristars Recognition Awards 2016, which were held in Pretoria to encourage and celebrate the youth in the sector, the department recognised the work of young farmers across the country. Six young farmers were recognised for excellence and achievement in the sectors and awarded certificates and prize money donated by sponsors.

Deputy Minister General Bheki Cele noted a weakness which he believed the youth had the ability to turn around. “It is discomforting, ironic and utterly humiliating that a continent as rich in minerals, land, vegetation, forestry, rivers, mountains and human resources as ours, has nothing to show but poverty and starvation,” he said.

Graduates also benefitted from the Experiential Training, Internship and Professional Development Programme, which was introduced in 2003. This initiative aids in the development of qualified unemployed graduates with practical hands-on experience to increase and enhance their chances of employability.

More than 600 beneficiaries have managed to secure permanent employment in both the public and private sectors. Some of them are employed by DAFF as a mechanism to consistently introduce skilled personnel. – Press release