BY: COLLEEN DARDAGAN
11 DEC 2019 FILED IN: CANEGROWERS NEWS
Caption: Sugar industry representatives and successful participants in the SA Canegrowers Youth Development Intern Programme celebrate the conclusion of their year-long course.
A group of youngsters aspiring to become South Africa’s commercial farmers of the future were awarded today with certificates of participation in the SA Canegrowers’ Youth Development Internship Programme.
The ten students who spent the year at some of the industry’s most successful, yet diverse operations, each delivered a 10-minute presentation on technical and management topics of their choice to demonstrate what they had learned from the experience.
The topics they chose ranged from the diversification of crops to mitigate against risk particularly in light of the sustainability crisis facing South Africa’s sugar industry, the importance of the health and safety of workers, integrated pest and disease management, weed control and future prospects which could include the development of genetically modified cane and the integration of various sugarcane production technologies to improve production yields, for example, inter-cropping.
Development Manager at SA Canegrowers, Makhosazana Dlamini said advertisements were sent out to attract participants to the programme in the third quarter of 2018 using both social and mainstream media. “We received over a hundred enquiries. We drew up a shortlist of applicants who were all interviewed before we chose the ten participants who we see here today.”
SA Canegrowers Board Representative and participating commercial grower, Andrew Russell, said the internship programme had given the youngsters a “huge” advantage as they were now on an upward trajectory which could lead to increased responsibility and roles of authority on farms. “What has been wonderful about the programme is the collaboration and the way we have all learned from each other. Also both the theoretical and practical aspects of the programme have placed the participants at a huge advantage because they are now well on their way to becoming managers and leaders of others. They are learning to become responsible stewards of the land and how to put good governance into practice. To be a part of this programme, to contribute to the development of a new generation of farmers has been a big privilege for me,” he said.
Top achiever in the programme, Lungelo Madiya who spent his year at Donovale Farms in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands said the experience had taught him that farming was dynamic, that he had to learn to think on his feet and to be able to improvise. Madiya scored over 90% in his written examinations.
The intern programme is a partnership between the South African Sugar Association, the South African Sugar Research Institute and SA Canegrowers.