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Farmers learn more

Fifty-six emerging farmers from the Western Cape received national certificates in mixed farming, animal production and plant production at the Kaap Agri Academy in Porterville on Thursday 28 November.

The students are part of the Academy’s Farmer Development Programme which consists of three courses, all accredited by AgriSETA in terms of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Students can study mixed farming (NQF level 2) and can specialise with NQF level-3 courses in animal production or plant production. The content of the programme consists of several sessions during the year and is presented in two sections, business practice and farming practice.

This year, Carole Kirkwood, Jerome April and Matanzima Baleni were the top students in their respective classes.

“I started thinking I knew everything there is to know about farming but this programme taught me so many new things. I am now able to run my business more efficiently and mentor other emerging farmers,” said Baleni, a livestock farmer who farms in Malmesbury and is top achiever of the animal production class. “I am so excited about the future and I hope that the youth in my community will feel inspired to pursue a career in agriculture.”

Jerome April, who farms in Wellington, and top student of the mixed farming class said: “I’ve been involved in farming for as long as I can remember but this course was a real eye-opener. Growing up and working on a farm I learnt a lot but this course has taught me the importance of why farmers need to do certain things at certain times and that has really empowered me,” he said.

Carole Kirkwood, who farms with livestock in the Tankwa Karoo, decided to pursue plant production: “I’m not a crop farmer but when I heard about the Kaap Agri Academy I was immediately interested to learn more. Thanks to this programme and the professional facilitators, I walk away educated and knowledgeable on plant production farming.”

All the graduates are previously disadvantaged individuals, have access to land and are already involved in farming practices across the province.

“We would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to the Kaap Agri Academy graduates. This is a wonderful achievement and we share their pride in their journey,” said Tasneem Sulaiman-Bray, Kaap Agri’s director of Corporate Affairs.

“As the agri sector is our bedrock, this programme is well aligned to our core business. We have spent over R2,6 million in training emerging farmers over the past year, with the aim of equipping them with practical as well as management knowledge to progress even further and become successful commercial farmers. Many of our graduates have gone on to become successful producers and employers in the industry.”

Since the Academy opened its doors in 2009, more than 360 emerging farmers completed the programme successfully. The Academy also presents practical training to farmworkers.

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