The reopening of the Tsolo Agriculture and Rural Development Institute (Tardi), near Tsolo in the Eastern Cape, will not only help attract and skill rural youth but it will also help communal farmers improve their farming skills.
According to Premier Phumulo Masualle, the Tardi will help boost agricultural knowledge in the province and country, and develop the province into the nerve-centre of agricultural activities.
“Our province should produce food and feed the whole country. We can be the heartbeat of the country in providing the necessary skills and the reopening of the institution is a big step towards realising that,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has invested R8 million to revamp the institute. So far, a temporary livestock clinic has been built while a permanent structure is under construction.
There are currently 32 registered students at the institute studying towards a Diploma in Animal Health.
Premier Masualle encouraged the students to grab the opportunity given to them with both hands.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime and we are proud of you. Compensate this opportunity by working hard and bring good results in order to revive the pride of this institute,” he said.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, urged the students to study hard and improve their skills.
“Your books should be your friends from now. We don’t want only certificates, we also want skills and knowledge. This college is redeeming the esteem of agriculture knowledge.”
MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, emphasised the importance of partnerships between emerging and commercial farmers. He added that some commercial farmers had volunteered to be visiting lectures at the institution.
One of the students at the institution, Noncedo Luma, said she would not take the opportunity given to her and her peers for granted.
“As rural children who have faced challenges in furthering our education we will do our best to excel.
“We are happy because after acquiring the necessary skills we will be able to find or create employment. We want to make this institute to be among the best in South Africa,” she said.