04 May 2017 Volume :5 Issue :24

Agricultural Economics Students Society Hosts First Seminar

Agricultural Economics Students Society Hosts First Seminar
AESS Deputy President Ms Kate Mashikinya (left) presents a gift to Ms Zodwa Mazibuko of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Agricultural Economics Students Society (AESS) has hosted its first seminar which was themed: “Raising Graduates for the Job Market”.

UKZN alumnus Ms Zodwa Mazibuko, who is the Deputy Director of Agricultural Economics and Marketing at the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (KZNDARD), presented at the seminar.

Mazibuko completed her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics at UKZN in 2006 and has since furthered her studies at various institutions, including UKZN.

Agricultural economics staff and undergraduate and postgraduate students heard Mazibuko give an overview of the agricultural sector from a public sector perspective as well as discuss the role of agricultural economists in KZNDARD and opportunities for agricultural graduates.

After the presentation, staff and students interacted with Mazibuko in discussions about future collaboration between UKZN’s Agricultural Economics discipline and the Agricultural Economists Forum (AEF) - a forum consisting of agricultural economists in KZNDARD and chaired by Mazibuko.

A postgraduate student suggested that a relationship be initiated between AESS and AEF, aimed at exposing students to work with agricultural economists do on a daily basis and the challenges they face - essentially a job shadowing programme.

Reacting, AESS Founder Mr Lungelo Cele, said: ‘This experience would help students focus their research projects on challenges faced by a majority of smallholder farmers in KwaZulu-Natal, enabling them to better align themselves to workplace standards.’

Mazibuko welcomed the proposal and suggested the partnership should be formalised, which is now expected to happen before the end of the year.

The Head of the Agricultural Economics discipline at UKZN, Professor Gerald Ortmann, congratulated the AESS executive committee for organising the seminar and thanked Mazibuko for sharing her knowledge with the students.

‘The seminar was a learning curve for me and I know that the information provided has helped me to be better prepared to work for the public sector in future,’ said student, Ms Kate Mashikinya.

* AESS aims to link students with workplace opportunities and to equip them with skills to start their own businesses. The initiative was started to help get a better understanding of students’ goals and aspirations in the agricultural sector, particularly in agricultural economics. AESS shares scholarships and job opportunities on its Facebook page, and organises seminars and annual competitions for students.

Lungelo Cele

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