Colleagues from the Netherlands visited Stellenbosch University during the first week of June 2022 as part of the Strengthening Education and Agri-business interaction for sustained employment and agricultural Development in South Africa project (SEAD-SA). It aims towards capacity building in the agri training sector.
The lead SEAD South African partner, ELANGENI Public Technical and Vocational Education and Training college, was responsible for the coordination and administration of activities in KwaZulu-Natal.
The visit also served as an opportunity to wrap up a project that ran from 2018 to 2021 to tackle the skills gap with pilot approaches in the poultry, dairy and piggery sector in KwaZulu-Natal and the horticulture sector in the Western Cape.
This project brought together educational institutes from all levels and industry in one learning-oriented network.
The initiative offered students practical teaching and exposure to relevant sectors to increase their employability. Simultaneously, it increased the chances of the industry to find well-matched staff for positions needed to increase production. This concept was put in place and be key driver key in the sustained success of South Africa’s agribusiness and employment sectors.
The partnership further aimed to link the Dutch “green education column” with one in South Africa, and jointly design and roll out educational models. It aimed to maximise the linkages between industry requirements in terms of competencies of their future staff, and how the educational institutes from FET to university level can best build those competencies amongst students.
The visiting team was led by Ms Jeannette van de Steeg, senior lecturer and a member of the International Food & Agribusiness (IFA) Management team, and Mr Toon Keijsers, a senior lecturer at IFA and HAS International Projects of the HAS (Dutch Hogeschool) University of Applied Sciences. The latter is independent university of applied sciences, specialising in food, agriculture, horticulture, nature and environment in 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.
Also part of the delegation were colleagues from the following Dutch education institutions.
During the week, the Dutch delegation, accompanied by colleagues from KZN, met with different colleagues in the Faculty of AgriSciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) as well as with teaching staff at Elsenburg and Boland College in Worcester to discuss ways to expand collaboration and exchange programmes for both staff and students.
Students in the Master’s programme in Sustainable Agriculture attended a guest lecture by Ms van de Steeg and Mr Keijsers.
The Dutch visiting team also paid site visits to Kromco, Laastedrift farm in Ceres and Skyvines wine farm near Worcester to also talk to industry partners.
Kromco, one of the largest deciduous fruit packing facilities in South Africa, is an industry partner of this project in the Western Cape. Students from Elsenburg currently do internships there. During the visit at Kromco, the visitors discussed this collaboration. Afterwards they were shown the world-class facility production site which includes some of the latest pre-sorting technology available for apples. Storage, grading, packing, marketing and distribution of fruit all happen on one site.
The visits to Laastedrif and Skyvines enabled further partnership discussions, allowed the delegates to see different industries working in the sector.
A MOU was signed between SU and HAS in an effort to increase collaboration on teaching, learning and exchanges between the two educational institutions.
At the entrance of Kromco, from left to right,are from Kromco, Mr Hennie Claasens (Market Access Manager), Ms Angelique Pretorius (Technical Manager), Mr Riaan Meyer (Production Manager), Mr Ernst Moller (lecturer at Elsenburg/Western Cape Department of Agriculture) and Mr Sebastian Schippers (HR Manager). The guests from the Netherlands are Mr Harm Holleman (Aeres University of Applied Sciences, Wageningen), Mr Toon Keijsers (HAS), Ms Maatje Müskens and Ms Karin Elferink (Yuverta) and Ms Jeannette van de Steeg (HAS).
For more details, please contact Ms Julia Harper, Food Security Initiative Manager at SU at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article and pictures by Anneke Müller