A farming education initiative in KZN is providing a unique work-integrated learning programme for young farmers of the future with the backing of Kwanalu.
Future Farmers is a social program which aims to cultivate skills and ignite passion in young aspiring farmers between the ages of 18 and 26 years old, by providing them with real job experiences in a field of agriculture of their choice. The programme is designed to give young people the opportunity to “learn as they earn” by finding apprentice positions on local and then later, international farms.
The brainchild of Howick dairy farmer Judy Stuart, Future Farmers was founded in 2005 after she identified a two-fold void in the agricultural sector. One being that of training and experience for potential young farmers and secondly, thanks to her international travels, the demand for hard-working and passionate youngsters on international farms.
Now 10 years later, with many successful placements of eager young South African farmers on farms in New Zealand, Australia, America and Denmark, Future Farmers has become a recognized role-player in the future of KZN farming. To this end Kwanalu have secured a funding for investment in Future Farmers programme to bring to fruition a joint vision of a skilled, motivated and dedicated “agricultural generation” to life.
The programme relies on local farmers to employ these young people at apprenticeship level to teach them the skills, knowledge and experience needed in farming. They are required to work for an agreed period of time on this farm before qualifying for a second apprenticeship abroad. Stuart explains why, irrespective of education or experience, each candidate must start at ground level.
The second part of the programme places young farmers with the necessary criteria, on international farms where they work for a period of one year, gaining further invaluable experience before returning to SA to secure employment in the agricultural sector of their choice.
“Our young men and women are encouraged to bring back to South Africa all that they have learnt and to invest their time into the future of others. They are able to set an example by showing their communities what can be achieved with passion and a good work ethic,” said Judy.
Future Farmers receives hundreds of applicants monthly from all over the province and further afield who undergo a rigorous selection process that ensures that only the most passionate, hardworking candidates with a real heart and enthusiasm for farming are selected.
Kwanalu has secured funding and identified the Future Farmers programme as a key partner in implementing in order to initiate, drive and support job creation and youth development in the province.
“This funding will expand Future Farmers’ capacity to employ mentors and allow more young people into the programme. We are delighted to have found a way to help nurture and shape the future of agriculture in such a positive way`” said Kwanalu’s CEO, Sandy La Marque.
Sandy stressed that what Future Farmers and the future of farming really needs are open-minded, local farmers to come forward and participate in the program, either as mentors or as employers.
Any farmer wishing to participate in this program should please contact Future Farmers, Judy Stuart on 033 342 9043