26 August 2015 Volume :3 Issue :39

Students Start Group for Youth in Agriculture

Students Start Group for Youth in Agriculture
The Agri-Groomers group with Cedara and UKZN staff.

Students at the Cedara College of Agriculture and UKZN have formed a group called Agri-Groomers, which aims to equip young people for careers in agriculture.

The group of 15 students operates by connecting youth to the agricultural sector in a variety of ways as well as furthering their understanding of the agricultural market.

Agri-Groomers was officially launched in May, after developing the concept for about two years.

The idea originated from a concern students had about their exposure to and readiness for the market place.  This resulted in them forming the group to focus on creating a platform for opportunities for learning, networking and participating in various aspects of the agri-sector.

It is hoped that Agri-Groomers will motivate students and close the gap between them and the marketplace as well as promoting the implementation of research and the delivery of agricultural services to communities.

Agri-Groomers participants also aim to continuously develop, improve and implement strategies that provide participants with relevant tools and training to assist and create opportunities for themselves and others.

Chief Executive Officer for the group, Mr Nkosinathi Nkosi, said the response had defied expectations, with students initially being hesitant but soon warming to the idea and joining up in encouraging numbers after the official launch.

The launch also linked Agri-Groomers with many organisations, companies and governmental agencies.

Staff members at Cedara and UKZN have provided moral and logistical support, especially in accessing their networks to enable the students to create the linkages they need to establish their presence.

Agri-Groomers’ activities concentrate on three main areas: Agricultural Learning and Skills Development; Personal Development and Character Building, and Connect, which comprise the 3D, AgriGames and GreenActions programmes.

Agricultural Learning and Skills Development focuses on the building of technical skills through hands-on experience and in-service training with relevant stakeholders, while Personal Development and Character Building focuses on the honing of soft skills such as leadership and self-awareness to improve employability.

The Connect aspect includes Discussions, Debate and Dialogues (3D), interactions set up to engage youth in research and public speaking so that their messages reach decision makers.

The AgriGames component promotes participatory learning in a relaxed environment and also serves as a catalyst for team building.

Finally, the “GreenActions”  feature is online-based software under construction which the group intends to be used by stakeholders across the agricultural sector, from NGOs to extension workers to governmental agencies who require access to research and information to inform their activities.

The group has already had the opportunity to become involved in events in the agricultural sector. A group of Agri-Groomers student volunteers were at the recent Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) Youth in Agriculture Summit, where they were commended for their cheerful, willing attitude and hard work.

They will also collaborate with the South African Youth Climate Change Coalition (SAYCCC) group next month when they assist at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s World Forestry Congress in Durban.

Agri-Groomers intends to partner with agricultural colleges and universities, agriculturists, agricultural associations, government sectors, NGOs and the private sector.

Anyone aged between 18 and 35 who is motivated to change the lives of others through Agri-Groomers’ work and who will volunteer their skills, talents and knowledge in advancement of youth development in agriculture, is welcome to be a member.

For further information: e-mail agrigroomers@gmail.com

Christine Cuénod

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