Agriculture is no longer a popular career choice, and a ministerial committee should be appointed to discuss urgent problems.
This was one of the recommendations from a panel of the Academy of Science of South Africa (Assaf) in the report “Revitalising Agricultural Education and Training in South Africa.”
Several panel members said agriculture is no longer a popular career choice. Moreover, there is little awareness about the variety of agricultural business and entrepreneurial careers in the food-and-value chain.
On agricultural training, the panel said there is a lot of uncertainty about agricultural colleges. It recommends a reform of the system to improve integration, cooperation and responsibility, and to optimally use available money, people and infrastructure.
The panel said there is a great need for qualified educators. It said in 2014, the higher education profile of academics were primarily white.
The panel believes the focus must be on primary production, while skills for the agricultural provision chain comes from a wider range of disciplines.
“There is an urgent need for relevance in learning plans.”
The panel recommends that the training of extension officers should receive more attention, as they could drive the renewal of knowledge transfer from laboratories to practice.
Similar to the rest of the education system, financing is also a headache in agriculture training.
There is a greater need for financing at all work sessions for interested parties, especially to equip institutions to offer practical and career related training.