Agricultural Extension Student Receives Wells Mountain Foundation Scholarship
Mr Bhekisisa Nxumalo, a student in the Discipline of Agricultural Extension and Rural Resource Management (AERRM) in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), is the first South African student to receive a Wells Mountain Foundation (WMF) Empowerment through Education Scholarship.
The WMF, which awarded scholarships to 30 scholars from 25 developing countries around the world, received 900 applications this year.
By contributing financially to the tuition of students’, the Foundation aims to assist recipients improve their future through education so they may in turn assist their communities. For this reason, one of the conditions of the scholarship is that recipients volunteer 100 hours of their time every year to community projects.
Nxumalo, who chose to study Agricultural Extension through an eagerness to help increase rural development, said he applied for the WMF scholarship because he felt it would prepare him for a future in this field.
He has a growing passion for Agricultural Extension, saying it is an important, diverse field where critical problems facing the country’s agricultural sector can be systematically tackled.
‘Agricultural Extension also simplifies life and equips you with a formula to solve problems that hinder the success of an individual, group or state, as it was specifically developed to address the changing agricultural landscape in South Africa,’ said Nxumalo.
Studying through UKZN and the Cedara College of Agriculture has been particularly beneficial for him as he experiences the practical side of his work and gets the facilities for all aspects of study from accommodation to transport to farm networks. He says that his training through this partnership has equipped him with a powerful combination of knowledge and skills in Agricultural Extension, rural development, project management, agricultural production and farm management.
‘To be chosen as a WMF scholar is a great privilege and honour, considering the fact that there were so many qualified applicants from different developing countries around the world, and that I am the first student from South Africa to be selected,’ said Nxumalo.
He describes his longing for the acquisition of new information as a hunger, which drives him to succeed and uplift others in the process.
He has been an integral part of the Agri-Groomers group, through which he plans to do much of his volunteer work. Agri-Groomers, a student-led group of motivated Cedara and UKZN students which was officially constituted last year, aims to create opportunities for learning, networking and participating in various aspects of the agricultural sector, where individuals gain a global understanding of agriculture.
Agri-Groomers participants have recently been able to participate in events such as the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) Youth in Agriculture Summit, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) World Forestry Congress.
Nxumalo had this advice for fellow students: ‘Never stop applying for bursaries and scholarships. It should become a habit.’