The agricultural graduates will undergo on-the-job training under the tutelage of experienced mentors.
THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform selected 80 unemployed agricultural graduates to be placed at 16 farms around the Province to undergo experiential training for the next two years.
Of the 80 graduates initially chosen, five declined the offer after receiving full-time employment elsewhere.
The 75 remaining graduates will be placed in relevant smallholder or commercial (medium scale, large scale and mega/corporate) enterprises to undergo on-the-job training in the areas of production, agro-processing, farm management, governance, business and entrepreneurship (value chain) under the tutelage of experienced mentors.
The selection process follows the application process that started in December 2020.
The MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform, Mase Manopole, welcomed the graduates at the Blocuso Vineyard in the ZF Mgcawu District.
Manopole was accompanied by the acting head of department, Lerato wa Modise, the Kai! Garib Local Municipality executive mayor, Marius Louw, and farmer organisations.
Department spokesperson Zandisile Luphahla said that 412 applications were received in total after the advertisement for the recruitment of suitable candidates was placed.
Luphahla said the highest number of applications received was in the Frances Baard District.
“A total of 194 applications were received in Frances Baard, where about 29 candidates were shortlisted. Male candidates were 21 and 12 were female.
“John Taolo Gaetsewe District had the second highest number with a total of 69 applications received. About 19 candidates were shortlisted, of which seven were male candidates and 12 were female.
“In the Pixley Ka Seme District a total of 97 applications were received, where 19 candidates were shortlisted, 13 being male candidates and six females.
“ZF Mgcawu District and Namakwa District received a total of 52 applications, where 20 candidates were shortlisted. Nine were male candidates and 11 were female.”
Luphahla explained that 87 of the 412 candidates made it onto the shortlist. “Eighty graduates were initially appointed. However, 75 accepted the offer while the other five declined after receiving full-time employment elsewhere.
“The 75 successful graduates will be placed on one of 16 farms that have agreed to participate in hosting the newly-appointed interns.
“They will spend the next two years on these farms, gaining valuable experience and skills,” said Luphahla.
Manopole has pledged her department’s undivided support to all the intake graduates.
She encouraged the 2021 intake graduates to look beyond being employed in the sector. “Help us to create more job opportunities,” said Manopole.
The MEC also pledged to support the graduates to develop “bankable” business plans with the help of economists and other relevant experts during the last six months of their participation in the programme.
This is aimed at adequately preparing them to pursue their envisaged entrepreneurial ambitions after exiting the programme.
The graduates will further be linked to government support programmes relating to their chosen enterprises and other potential funders such as the National Youth Development Agency.
Luphahla indicated that this was the second intake of agricultural graduates.
The department recruited the first cohort of 80 graduates across the Province in 2019 and placed them at relevant smallholder and commercial farms to undergo on-the-job training.
“To date, a total of 23 commercial farms and enterprises participated in the placement.
“The two-year contracts for 65% of the appointed graduates have ended and the contract of the rest will be ending this year.
“About six of the graduates are employed full-time thanks to Raisins SA and Cofco International,” said Luphahla.