Agricultural students, industry leaders, farmers and agri-businesses came together on Friday, April 20TH 2018, at Cedara Agricultural College for the annual Future Farmers Day to pay tribute to the achievements of the Future Farmers Foundation’s current and past agricultural graduates.
Future Farmers, the brainchild of Howick dairy farmer Judy Stuart, is a unique social program which aims to cultivate the skills and ignite a passion for farming in young aspiring farmers, between the ages of 18 and 30 years old, by providing them with real job experiences in an agricultural field of their choice. The programme is designed to give young people the opportunity to “learn as they earn” by finding apprentice positions on local and then later, international farms, returning home to South Africa with their expertise.
Today, with many successful placements of eager young South African farmers on farms in New Zealand, Australia, America and Denmark, Future Farmers has become a recognised role-player in the future of KZN farming with many “past” Future Farmer students not only working successfully on, but also managing large commercial operations in the province.
The speakers included many future farmers who shared impassioned tales of their experiences on farms locally and overseas, who all agreed that, despite the hard work, the opportunity the Future Farmers’ initiative afforded them wasn’t just an agricultural experience but a life-changing one.
All of the graduates which spoke praised the foundation and Judy for making an impact on their lives. “I would like to thank and acknowledge AgriSETA and Future Farmers who have made our dreams of becoming farmers come true. I would also like to thank commercial farmers, here in SA and abroad, who have supported and mentored us interns,” said Sanelisiwe Ngubane, a Future Farmer graduate.
Future Farmers is a recognised role-player in shaping the future of farming in KZN and, with the backing of Kwanalu, who works tirelessly to secure funding for the Future Farmers programme with the objective of bringing a skilled, motivated and dedicated “agricultural generation” to life, has gained overwhelming support from AgriSETA, agri-businesses, sponsors and the agricultural industry at large.
Acting AgriSETA CEO Frikkie Fouche commended the Future Farmer graduates on their adaptability and for taking the opportunities afforded to them in the pursuit of becoming farmers.
“AgriSETA will continue to support programmes that are making an impact and from I what I hear and see here today, the Future Farmers’ programmes is one of those,” said Fouche.
President of Kwanalu, Andy Buchan congratulated the graduates.
“We at Kwanalu believe that the future of farming, in South Africa, lies in the hands of our young farmers and from what we see today, we are inspired and encouraged for the future,” said Buchan.
Kwanalu’s CEO, Sandy La Marque said Kwanalu was proud to be a part of the Future Farmers programme and commended the union’s members for their mentorship roles in the programme.
“Congratulations to all the young people we have heard from today for your hard work, commitment and exceptional farming skills each one of you has developed from your experiences. We also thank our commercial farmers whose support of this program ensures the success of farmers of the future,” said La Marque.
The event culminated in an awards ceremony honouring those who had excelled in the programme and showed the most promise during their apprenticeships.