“Today’s youth aren’t aware of all the potential there is are in agriculture. It is not just limited to farming in the fields, there are a host of opportunities like agribusiness, where youth can get involved,” said Lilly Thato Mabonela, one of the South African students.
Ms. Mabonela is among the first group of six South African youths to have successfully completed a four-month agricultural training programme at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
The initiative, with support from the South African government, is an effort to give youth from the region more opportunities in the agricultural sector.
Ms. Mabonela hopes to empower and engage more youth in her country in agricultural ventures that she plans to set up after she returns to South Africa. She wants the government and other organisations to do more to attract youth towards agriculture, like conduct awareness workshops in schools and colleges and offer free education to the disadvantaged youth of India and Africa.
The training programme, with funding from the Dr. Sam Motsuenyane Rural Development Foundation and support of the South African government through its human resource initiative, was coordinated by the Learning Systems Unit (LSU) of ICRISAT. “In his recent nation address, the President of South Africa affirmed agriculture as a priority sector to drive economic growth and job creation in South Africa. The training programme for the youth is in line with the National Development Plan of South Africa known as NDP Vision 2030,” said South African Minister Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs Mkhululi Mankazana, while presenting the certificates to the youths.
Dr. Peter Carberry, ICRISAT’s deputy director general for research, said that there was a need for more human resources, particularly youth in agricultural research and development, to work towards a food and nutritional secure world.