Female students handpicked for farming success

Written by Sphelele Ngubane

Mr Price Foundation is busy planting seeds for South Africa’s food security by training female students to be successful farmers. Young women are given opportunities to learn practical farming skills as part of their agricultural training. Supplied by Mr Price Foundation.

The HandPicked Programme offers practical agricultural and business skills to students who are already enrolled for agricultural studies at technical and vocational education and training

(TVET) colleges.

The foundation’s Farzanah Asmal says urban and rural farming can tackle youth unemployment by cultivating job creation, stimulating youth entrepreneurship and tackling food insecurity.

“HandPicked teaches farming methods, technical farming and agribusiness skills to youth, shifting them from consumers to producers,” says Asmal.

Thandeka Zulu an implementation partners of the programme says she is driven by uplifting communities.

“My dream is to empower more people in townships and rural communities to build resilient businesses and contribute to the economy,” Zulu says.

Implementation partners are established farmers who work with interns who are part of the HandPicked programme.

Nokubonga Shange (23) is one of the HandPicked participants. She is studying farming management at Coastal KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) TVET College. She has been trained in managing a farming business and now plans to become a farm owner and start an agricultural community project for youth in her community.

“The programme makes farming easier and more interesting. It widens the minds of new interns, exposing them to other farming methods. It is a norm for us to think that farming can only be done on farm land.

However, we have since learnt you can also farm in greenhouses,” she says.

A greenhouse is a lite structure with sides and a roof, usually made out of glass. Greenhouses are used to grow plants.

Hlengiwe Mdlolo (26), who is also at Coastal KZN TVET College, sees a future in farming and hopes to have a mixed farm in KZN.

“The agricultural industry is growing at an incredibly rapid pace. This increases the demand for qualified candidates.

There is now a unique opportunity for college graduates to find [agricultural] work faster, discover their niche and, ultimately, grow their careers much faster than they might in other industries.”

Asmal says the HandPicked Programme plans to grow agripreneurs and create food hubs for communities.

Visit www.mrpfoundation.org for more information.