Agriculture a growing industry for young minds

Thursday, December 10, 2020
Onalenna Mhlongo
SA Cane Growers Intern Aphiwe Kaula

Aphiwe Kaula, a 22 year-old intern at South African Cane Growers, has encouraged youth in various provinces not to shy away from studying Agriculture as it is not a profession only for old people - but a growing industry that needs young minds.

Kaula applied for her internship immediately after she completed her Honours Degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in Durban.

SAnews met Kaula on a media tour of sugarcane farms in Pongola, KwaZulu-Natal, as part of the new Sugar Industry Masterplan.

The masterplan was signed last month by Trade, Industry and Competition Minister, Ebrahim Patel and the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, alongside industry stakeholders.

The plan seeks to take urgent action to protect thousands of jobs, rural livelihoods and businesses, while creating diversified revenue streams for sugar producers, and deliver significant new job opportunities.

As part of the plan, industrial users and retailers have agreed to a minimum offtake of sugar for a period of three years, with at least 80% of sugar consumption to come from South African farms and millers during the first year, increasing to 95% by 2023.

Among other things, the masterplan will promote sugarcane value chains, making them competitive and sustainable in order to preserve and grow rural employment and sustainable livelihoods.

As an intern at SA Cane Growers, Kaula’s daily routine includes supervising the planting of crops, the watering of crops, harvesting crops and general administration.

“We are now in the planting season so I find myself supervising the planting of seed cane and doing administration which includes financial budgets,” Kaula told SAnews.

Kaula expressed that her journey towards a four-year degree was not easy, adding that her dissertation for honours was the most difficult task for her to complete.

“I’m now doing my Master’s Degree but the Agricultural Economics degree comes with a Honours Degree included in the fourth year and typing up that dissertation was no easy feat, especially with no prior experience.

“The current Master’s Degree I’m busy with will help me to become proactive in idealizing and implementing solutions to how best to add value to the Agriculture field and help fellow farmers with easy methods to succeed in food creation,” Kaula  said.

Kaula has urged youth in various provinces not to shy away from studying Agriculture as it is not a profession that is only for old people but is a growing industry that needs young minds to put their heads together to come up with innovative ways to increase food creation.

The intern said the best way to create change and add to the economic recovery strategy is for young people to open small businesses.

She said she used the national lockdown as a chance to make home food deliveries to people, which limited the movement of people to the shops.

As such, youth should look for such opportunities when starting a small business and should not give up when applying for job opportunities in the Agriculture industry.

“If you find yourself in a space where there is no job opportunities - for instance you are living in Johannesburg or the North West Province - make sure to apply in other regions where farming is prominent,” Kaula said. –

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