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R147m boost for agri skills development

Home Agriculture R147m boost for agri skills development

THE Agricultural Sector Education Training Authority (AgriSETA) has announced its partnerships with industry partners worth R147 million.

CEO Zenzele Myeza said the development was in line with the authority’s plans for sector interventions through strategic public and private partnerships.

“AgriSETA embarked on an organisational strategic planning session in 2019, which led to the innovative approach of working through strategic partnerships with both public and private sector entities to advance skills development,” said Myeza.

“The plan was shared with AgriSETA’s former board, also referred to as the Accounting Authority, who gave the management team their blessing to pursue and amend the Discretionary Grant policy and to align it with the strategy.”

The finalisation of the partnerships also follows the Presidential Jobs and Investment Summits, which identified outcomes that include agriculture and land reform projects as key economic drivers. It is different, in that the successful rollout of such projects will serve to protect jobs in the rural economy for years to come.

Myeza cited the the National Development Plan (NDP) jobs creation target of one million jobs by 2033 and said AgriSETA intends to be a “cog in the wheel of progress”.

The strategic partnerships of R147 million comprose:

  • R11.7 million to the Agricultural Research Council towards Post-Graduate critical research areas, which the sector needs.
  • R14.7 million to KwaZulu Natal Agricultural Land Union (KZN Province) for unemployed graduates to be placed in commercial farms in KwaZulu Natal. This programme will run for three years, with an intake of 100 graduates per year.
  • R 12 million to the University of Pretoria (Department of Veterinary Services) and capacity building through collaboration with higher institutions of learning (University of Venda, Madzivhandila College of Agriculture and Vhembe TVET) and the Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development to strengthen local capacity to respond to the development of a new generation of vaccines and the implementation of early detection measures (infectious and parasitic diseases) such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in the Red Line Area of Vhembe District which also spread out in other districts of Limpopo Province and Mpumalanga. This outbreak has had a devastating impact on the economy of the country with severe effects felt by the red meat industry.

The agreements, however, are not one sided and include incoming funds from the National Department of Public Works and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), as follows:

  • R66 million from the National Department of Public Works for training of 400 artisans nationally over a period of 3 years. This project is being rolled out nationally and;
  • R21 million from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (National) to train 3000 learners in agriculture related skills in the nine provinces.

Strategic collaborations include R1.4 million OVK Group (Eastern Cape and Free-State Province), funding from AgriSETA allocated to the National Wool Growers Association who will train sheep shearers and wool classers to assist with the skills shortage in the Eastern Cape and Free State provinces.

The short term aim of this project is to empower these farmers so that they can optimise their income and to address the skills shortage in the wool sector, which will inevitably address the unemployment of youth and women in the Eastern Cape and Free State as they are the largest wool producing provinces in the country.

The long-term aim of the project is to adequately equip the current facilities in the tribal lands, thereby creating shearing hubs where producers can collectively shear their wool and, because of the higher volumes, they can have greater bargaining power with the Agricultural Businesses to which they deliver their wool.

Another collaboration is R20 million from AgriSETA, in partnership with the AgriBusiness Development Agency in KwaZulu Natal. The agency supports emerging black farmers with infrastructure and inputs to the value of R 100 million over three years. AgriSETA‘s funding is towards capacity building of farmers, with the intend of improving the commercial operations of these farmers.

“Partnerships are more important now than it has ever been – to revive the economy and to provide the necessary skills for the work that awaits us. Expanding access to skills programmes that address the labour market’s need for intermediate skills that include practical components is one of the department’s key mandates,” Myeza said.

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