SPEECH BY HONOURABLE SENZENI ZOKWANA, MP, MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES DELIVERED AT THE STUDENT ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSIONS

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1 SPEECH BY HONOURABLE SENZENI ZOKWANA, MP, MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES DELIVERED AT THE STUDENT ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSIONS 30 JUNE

2 Director-General of DAFF; DDGs of DAFF, colleges of agriculture principals, staff and invited students who are the future of this country s agricultural, forestry and fisheries sector with regard to skills transfer, farming and the overall support to food security and agrarian reform. Thank you for having me at this august occasion. As many of you will be aware, June is set aside as a month for the youth. Many of us here have long passed our youthful days, however, for those who are still 35 and under, happy Youth Month even though it has come to an end. We say the youth are moving South Africa forward! Youth Month emanated from events that tore our country apart and exposed the brutality of apartheid for what it was. When students in Soweto took to the streets to demand that they should not be forced to learn in Afrikaans, the government of the time reacted in the most brutal of ways. Today, we stand united as South Africans, commemorating the sacrifices that these young students made for a better country. I think it is fitting that we encourage the young people present here today to always remember that our freedom came at a blood-shed price. Today, we are brought together for the purposes of engaging with students at colleges of agriculture. With growing dependence on natural resources such as land, vegetation, minerals, water and the oceans, we have to ask ourselves a question: How can we forge an economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible vision for the use of the natural resources without compromising those of future generations? 2

3 Ladies and gentlemen, let us look briefly at the background of colleges of agriculture in South Africa as the key drivers in sector skill development and the green revolution. We know that achieving food security in its totality continues to be a challenge for the entire world and, in particular, for the developing nations when considering the proportion of the population affected. There are eleven colleges of agriculture in South Africa that provide both Higher Education and Training (HET) and Technical Vocational Agricultural Education and Training (TVAET) bands in agriculture. These colleges are located in six provinces of the country as follows: Cedara and Owen Sitole Colleges in KwaZulu-Natal; Potchefstroom and Taung Colleges in the North West; Cape Institute of Agriculture Training (CIAT): Elsenburg in the Western Cape; Fort Cox College, Tsolo and Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute (GADI) in the Eastern Cape; Glen College in the Free State; and Madzivhandila and Tompi Seleka Colleges in Limpopo. Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Gauteng provinces do not have a college of agriculture. The colleges admit young people in various agricultural study fields at certificate and national diploma levels. Colleges provide agricultural vocational education and training by offering a three-year National Diploma qualification, National Qualifications Framework (NQF) levels 5 to6 and vocational skills training to the farming community and the youth at NQF levels 1 to 4 in partnership with the relevant SETAs. In the main, graduates of the colleges are meant to become farmers, farm managers, technicians in the sector or extension advisors. Annually, a total of about young people are enrolled for post- 3

4 matric qualifications in the eleven colleges. The colleges are also very vibrant in training youth and the farmers of this country. On average each college admits 300 full-time students per annum. Colleges train on average, farmers per annum. Each college focuses on a specific niche area based on the agro-ecological zone in which it is located. What makes the colleges of agriculture unique? They focus their efforts more on practical agricultural aspects, as opposed to research as offered by universities. Their main focus is on: Training agricultural practitioners not only academic graduates Providing first level support for farmers on their farms Providing short practical courses for farmers and their employees Enhancing production farming practices In support of this focus, a special funding formula for Agricultural Training Institutes is required as it touches on: Farm infrastructure and equipment Teaching facilities such as classrooms, laboratories, vet clinics, workshops, etc. Staff and student accommodation, gymnasia, sports facilities and the like Practical work on the farm Agricultural support initiatives which require travelling at no cost to farmers Student placement for experiential training and Bursaries among others. 4

5 This form of perceived support is what makes the colleges of agriculture unique and outstanding institutions in providing hands- on training and quality education and training. Colleges of agricultural as centres of excellence (COEs) As embedded in the approved Norms and Standards for Agricultural Training Institutes, these colleges are all expected to operate as CoEs for rural wealth creation and should make a significant impact on rural wealth creation. A CoE should, at a most basic level, consist of: A team of people who promote collaboration and use best practices around a specific focus area to direct organisational or institutional results. This team could be staffed with full or part-time members. Today s discussions will be centred along the following issues: Governance Institutions Partnerships. Governance issues The colleges of agriculture are currently not governed by any Act of legislation, except to comply with certain Acts such as the Higher Education Act, FET Act, Skills Development Act, etc. In order to ensure that colleges are properly guided in their governance, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries developed the Norms and Standards for Agricultural Training Institutes/Colleges. 5

6 This document recommends a governance model which gives DAFF (national) oversight responsibility and accountability for the eleven colleges. The Norms and Standards and the Governance and Finance Framework for Agricultural Training Institutes were approved by the Intergovernmental Technical Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (ITCAFF) in May Institutional issues As you might be aware, all colleges report to their provincial departments, except for Grootfontein, which is part of DAFF s establishment and Fort Cox College, which is runs as a semiautonomous institution. Colleges provide agricultural vocational education and training in a three-year qualification (NQF levels 5 to 7) and the vocational skills training to the farming community and the youth at NQF levels1 to 4 in partnership with the relevant SETAs. As embedded in the approved Norms and Standards for Agricultural Training Institutes the ATIs are all expected to operate as CoEs for Rural Wealth Creation and should make a significant impact on rural wealth creation. A CoE should, at a most basic level, consist of a team of people who promote collaboration and use best practices around a specific focus area to direct organisational or institutional results. Partnerships 6

7 The department has achieved some milestones in engaging with various institutions and government departments to provide support to college students. I have made serious engagements with the Department of Rural Development to ensure that students graduating from these colleges are placed in smallholdings and farms that have been bought or released to the government. Details of such engagements are going to be made available as soon as all the necessary processes have been finalised. SETAs have started providing funds for bursaries, internships and training for college students. One example of this is the Health and Welfare SETA that has given almost R8 million to Tsolo students in the form of bursaries. AgriSETA has also availed funds to the colleges to support internships and training. My department has also partnered with the Netherlands government to direct the transformation of colleges of agriculture into Agricultural Training Institutes by providing support in: Curriculum development at Higher Education and Further Education and Training Management Information System (MIS) Policy development Quality assurance Gender mainstreaming. There are also partnerships with China and Japan in support of postgraduate qualification studies and other short courses. 7

8 Envisaged support Last year DAFF encouraged all the unemployed college graduates to register on our database and the response was overwhelming. Currently, the Department of Rural Development in partnership with DAFF is working on ensuring that such students are considered for placement as interns, trainers, young producers or entrepreneurs with various commodity organisations and land reform beneficiaries. My department, through the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme, is also working hard on ensuring that priority is given to young entrepreneurs to make a significant impact in food security by being engaged in agricultural, forestry and fisheries enterprises. In conclusion, in October, DAFF will be facilitating a conference through the Netherlands-funded project, where colleges are going to showcase the programmes that have been supported. It is expected that college students will also be the main participants during this conference. Having shared this information, I would therefore like to engage with you and listen to key critical areas that you would like to bring to my attention in support of the colleges of agriculture in fulfilling their mandate and in support of the colleges of agriculture graduates and students. Thank you. 8

9 9

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