Minister of Agriculture's visit to GADI:

As part of the National Imbizo week of government, the Honourable Mr Senzeni Zokwana, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, paid a visit to Grootfontein Agricultural College on Thursday 20 April.

Mr Zokwana’s message to the students was that they must be led by the idea that they can produce food as students in Agriculture. The aim and objective of the colleges must not be to only produce extension officers and academic staff, but to create a new cream of entrepreneurs who will be trained in agriculture in different areas to produce farmers to feed the nation… not only in South Africa, but to feed the world. The challenge that the Agricultural Colleges faces, is that they must not only produce academic staff, but they must also train students with different skills needed in Agriculture.

 

During his speech, the MEC of the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Mr Blibo Qoboshiyane reminded everyone of all the “Firsts” that were produced out of the Eastern Cape, eg Jotello Soga, born in 1865 in the former Transkei, was South Africa's first black veterrinary surgeon who played a leading role in eradicating rinderpest. And in 1994 Mr Nelson Mandela, who also came from the Eastern Cape, was the first black president of South Africa! “You must learn to loose issue… There is no time to complain about the past, take the advantage to work on the future of this country and agriculture”, Qoboshiyane said.

The President of ASATI (Association of Students of Agricultural Training Institutes) Mr Sandile Nzuza, who is a third year student at Grootfontein, gave a message of encouragement to everyone when he represented the students from all Agricultural Colleges.

Mr Ray Shweni, Mayor of Inxuba Yethemba Local Municipality concluded the event with the following message during his vote of thanks: “At Grootfontein we must make sure we create job creators and not job seekers. Miracles are not dreamed about, but miracles become reality because you worked hard to practise it and you will then get results out of it”, Mr Shweni said.

 

Before the official Imizo ceremony, the Minister also had engagement sessions with the agriculture sector stakeholders of the college, local government, organised agriculture and the local community farmers as well as the staff forum of Grootfontein. During these sessions the minister was updated on the way the college functions, the role of partnerships with sector partners and how to further build such relationships, to hear from different role-players what additional services they would want from the college and to indicate to the minister what support is required by the college from the department to extend its services. Following these sessions, the minister was taken on a tour of the campus to observe the hands-on training that the college provides to its students.

 

Photo: Thomas Letsoalo Lecturer in wool production at Grootfontien, presents top quality Merino wool to Mr Senzeni Zokwana, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the MEC of the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Mr Blibo Qoboshiyane in the Woolshed at Grootfontein College of Agriculture.