Food Security News South Africa

Minister of Economic Opportunities calls young innovators and researchers to agriculture

Speaking at a HORTGRO and HORTGRO Science event on Tuesday, 12 May, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde said, "Young people looking for opportunities in agriculture need not look any further, as there is plenty of scope in this sector. The average age of the South African farmer is 65. It is only a matter of time before there is a severe skills shortage and when your skill is in demand, you can set your own price."
Hugh Campbell, GM of HORTGRO Science, with the Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde.
Hugh Campbell, GM of HORTGRO Science, with the Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde.

Winde said a healthy economy - one that grows, needs a steady pipeline of young people to feed into the system. "We need young scientists to do research and create an understanding of where we are going to get the best efficiency in our industry. Your innovations could help solve problems, not just locally, but also globally."

Food security

Winde named food security in Africa as one of the agricultural sector's biggest challenges. China has become an important trade partner for us, he said, but if we are not careful China is going to own agriculture in Africa. "We have to go into this conversation with our eyes wide-open, because we could be looking at a new economic colonisation." He said all the interest from the Far East made him uncomfortable but interest from the West - who want to exploit "Africa's power", make him equally uncomfortable. "As Africans we cannot sit back and let this happen."

Winde said he intends to create an agricultural indaba where all role players on the African continent will come together to unpack the role Africans have to play in world food security.


He said agri-processing is one of the Western Cape government's focus areas and he intends to "rev this engine harder". "Currently 79,000 jobs have been created by agriculture, we need another 100,000 jobs. We have to remove the red-tape and make it easy to do business. I extend an invitation to everyone in agriculture to tell me what blocks your growth and what will enable business development."

In an effort to secure the future of the South African deciduous fruit industry, HORTGRO has invested more than R20 million over the last ten years in human capital. "By creating bursary schemes for young talent we are confident that they will be well-equipped to take this very scientific and technical industry into the future," Hugh Campbell, general manager of HORTGRO Science, said.

"Students are our human capital and we are confident that this investment will pay off. When we look at where our students end up, we know that we are doing the right thing. Most of them stay in agriculture with a high percentage of the post graduates servicing the deciduous fruit industry in various positions.

Over the last ten years, HORTGRO invested R6 million in the undergraduate bursary programme with 89 recipients. HORTGRO Science simultaneously invested more than R20 million in post graduates with an average of 30 to 40 bursaries annually.

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