Resulting in the generation of vastly improved educational materials and services and an enhanced common strategic plan, this project sought to assist four South African universities, contributing to the transformation of the national agricultural sector.
Transition processes in the agricultural sector in South Africa
A major transformation of the agricultural sector is taking place in South Africa. The main thrust is to bring more black farmers into commercial agriculture and to ensure the success of these new farmers. By the end of 2014 the South African government wants black owners to possess 30% of land. The success of the transition process lies, amongst others, in the creation of a strong extension service coupled with appropriate training of farmers, extension staff and schoolteachers in agriculture. Accredited agricultural training and education is central to this initiative.
Innovation in agricultural education programmes
Together with other organisations, the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (CDI) contributed to this transition process by assisting four South African Colleges of Agriculture in improving their education and training programmes on agricultural extension and education according to the needs of the developing agricultural sector and its land redistribution programmes. The colleges involved in the project are Cedara College of Agriculture, Lowveld College of Agriculture, Madzhivandila College of Agriculture and Potchefstroom Agricultural College.
At work with strategies, workshops and study tours
The project worked on different levels: management, educational, administrative and support staff, for the colleges individually and collectively. We assisted the colleges to build the capacity to design, revise and implement relevant education and training programmes at different levels that are responsive to the changing demands and trends in the agricultural sector. Several courses, workshops and conferences were organised, covering - amongst others - methodological, didactical, strategic and management issues. CDI also organised study tours to the Netherlands for staff in a variety of disciplines. Through the project, an enormous amount of learning and teaching materials and services is now available in English and partially in Afrikaans.
Facing the challenges
All four colleges now avail of an approved strategic plan and a proper basis has been put for the development of common and harmonized policies and regulations. It can safely be concluded that the colleges benefited immensely from the project, without which they would have had serious difficulties in dealing with their organisational challenges brought about by the transformation agenda within the agricultural sector.