More youth take up opportunities in agricultural sector

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, has challenged the Agricultural Sector Education Training Authority (AgriSETA) to ensure that it further enhances its outreach programmes to all youth in the provinces.

“These initiatives should be undertaken together with some of our SETAs, our municipalities and the involvement of our traditional authorities,” Nzimande said.

Addressing the AgriSETA annual general meeting on Wednesday, Nzimande said the department has observed an increase in agriculture interest from youth who continue to see opportunities in agriculture.

“I am delighted to observe this paradigm shift from our youth, who are increasingly taking up these opportunities. Observing this interest from our youth, AgriSETA must take up the challenge and ensure that it further enhances its outreach programmes to all our youth in our provinces.

“South Africa needs at least 60% of school leavers to pursue artisanal type training in order for our country to meet the demand for scarce skills, which include agricultural skills. This is amongst the reasons there is a continuous need for us to produce qualified agriculture artisans and artisans in general to sustain industries and support economic growth in our country,” Nzimande said.

Nzimande commended AgriSETA for exceeding its target for the development of artisans for the year ended 31 March 2022, with 297 learners entering artisanal development programmes.  

The Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) has identified the strengthening of agriculture and food security as one of its seven priority interventions.

Agricultural sector employment increase in second quarter of 2022

The Minister acknowledged the increase in employment trends within the agricultural sector. 

“In the first quarter of 2020, the sector had about 865 000 workforce, and now in the second quarter of 2022, it has a workforce of about 874 000,” Nzimande said.

He commended AgriSETA for showing its commitment to ensure that the agricultural sector creates sustainable employment opportunities and continues to recover from the COVID-19 economic disruption.   

However, Nzimande emphasised the importance of AgriSETA to focus its attention towards agribusiness and agro-processing skills, not only for employability purposes, but for agricultural entrepreneurship. 

AgriSETA received R522.7 million in 2022, compared with the R344.9 million in the 2020/2021 financial year, in skills development levies income.

In the wake of the impact of COVID-19 and the need to drive the ERRP, Nzimande said he has instructed the National Skills Fund (NSF) to prioritise agricultural skills development, urging AgriSETA to directly engage with the NSF in order to maximise resources available for the provision of skills in agriculture.

He said he has been working with Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, to increase the provision of bursaries for students from poor families, who are studying in agricultural colleges.

Consultations to migrate agricultural colleges at an advanced stage

Meanwhile, Nzimande announced that the consultations with provinces for agricultural colleges to migrate to the Department of Higher Education and Training, as per the Cabinet decision, are at an advanced stage.

He said AgriSETA must also see this as an opportunity of better aligning agricultural training and qualifications, and as a huge opportunity for skills development for the entire agricultural skills pipeline. –