There’s never been a better time to head to China to pursue studies in agriculture than now since China’s agricultural output is the largest in the world.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has awarded 15 postgraduate students a two-year scholarship to further their studies in China.
The programme is a partnership between the department and China, as part of an existing cooperation agreement between the two countries.
The students will enrol for postgraduate studies at Masters and Doctoral levels in agriculture, forestry and fisheries at the China Agricultural University in Beijing.
Director-General of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Langa Zitha said the scholarship showed that South Africa had excellent relations with China. He described China as a country walking with many feet at once because it had the most advanced technology in the world.
One of the students, Phendukani Hla-tshwayo from Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “I want to assure South Africans that upon my return, I will implement what I would have learned in China,” he said.
Sello Mokhothu of Welkom in the Free State will study towards a master’s degree in Science Agronomy. He said his key focus would be on food security and sustainable agriculture.
“I consider myself a dynamite which will explode in two years’ time when I return home with more knowledge, which will certainly take the agricultural sector to another level,” Mokhothu said.
Southinah Matlala from Jane Furse in Limpopo, said that her focus would be on acquiring skills on the challenges currently facing the country. “… I will be interested in gaining skills on rural development, food security and poverty alleviation,” she said.
In February this year, the department invited interested young people with the necessary qualifications to apply for the scholarships. From a total of 30 applications, only 15 were successful. “These postgraduates will return home with new skills in the agricultural field,” said Zitha.
“This will enrich South Africa’s research knowledge in the areas of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
Without a strong research base, there cannot be innovation. Without innovation, we cannot talk about agriculture, forestry and fisheries development,” Zitha said.