Cedric Mboyisa

SITFE Trustees Peaceful Ndlovu, Viva Nene, Thandokwakhe Sibiya, Sbu Hlela, Lee Hlubi, Roy Sharma, Guest Speaker Lucy Moyane, SASA Chairman Suresh Naidoo and SASA Executive Director Trix Trikam. (Back) SASA Land Reform and Rural Development General Manager Anwhar Madhanpall, SITFE Administrator Lisa Manning and the SITFE bursary recipients.

Agriculture is the future!

This was the message from Lucy Moyane, Deputy Director-General (DDG) for Curriculum at the Department of Education in Mpumalanga, who delivered a keynote address at the recent Sugar Industry Trust Fund for Education (SITFE) ceremony to honour the bursary scheme’s graduates. “By 2040, Africa’s workforce could be one billion strong, so finding jobs for this young population should be at the forefront of government agenda. This challenge is coupled with Africa’s increasing demand for varied and nutritious foods. The solution to both is… build successful agribusinesses,” said Moyane.

SITFE, which is administered by the South African Sugar Association, held the ceremony to honour 20 bursary recipients who recently graduated from their respective colleges and universities. The top achievers received brand new laptop computers. All graduates were awarded certificates in recognition of their achievements. Each year SITFE awards 41 bursaries to deserving students from the sugarcane growing provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. Included in the 41 bursaries are six which are reserved for children of sugarcane farmworkers who can apply for any field of study at an affiliated tertiary institution of their choice.

“Today is therefore an important landmark in your life journey. No one, however, makes a journey alone. Whatever people may accomplish, those accomplishments are usually obtained through the combination of their own personal drive and motivation, as well as the love and support given to them by the people around, the people they journey with and the families they leave home. Therefore, I would like at this point to acknowledge all those who have been so instrumental in bringing us to where we are today, the people who have made today possible,” said Moyane.

Citing five reasons, the DDG said agriculture was a critical career and crucial for economic growth:

Agriculture matters to the future of development – the sector is up to four times more effective than other sectors in reducing poverty

Agriculture can be a goldmine for young entrepreneurs – it is profitable and helps create jobs

Agriculture provides opportunities for innovation – the fourth industrial revolution is here

More young people are choosing agriculture as a career

Agricultural research needs young brilliant minds.

“A growing global demand for food is putting more pressure than ever on the family farms and smallholders that provide 80 per cent of the world’s food supply. With the United Nations stating that food production must double by 2050 to feed a growing population, it is essential that we encourage and enable a new generation of agriculturists both at home and around the world, or we will be left with food that is both scarce and expensive,” said Moyane.

SITFE Trustee Roy Sharma said since its inception in 1965, SITFE had made it possible for more than 10 200 students from the sugarcane growing provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga to realise their academic dreams. “We have always been of the firm view that academically deserving students, especially those from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, need funding to unleash their full potential,” he added.

He revealed that this year SITFE had introduced a mentor programme to assist first year students adapt to the university life. “In terms of the bursary programme, we have noted that government has introduced bursaries through NSFAS for those students whose families earn less that R320 000. We are therefore reviewing the programme, and may enter into a partnership with NSFAS, in which we provide some funding for the tuition fees, but focus more of our resources for the ‘wrap around’ support so desperately required by students,” he said.

SITFE is proud to include among its alumni a number of prominent leaders in South Africa including Minister of Transport, Dr Bonginkosi “Blade” Nzimande, MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, Western Cape Judge President, John Hlophe and Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize and his wife Dr May Mkhize also received assistance from SITFE for their high school education.