Friends of UKZN Agriculture Sow Seeds of Content
The Friends of UKZN Agriculture alumnus association held its fourth annual networking function themed: “A is for Agriculture: Education Meets Agriculture in KZN”, with the MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Cyril Xaba, and Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UKZN, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, delivering keynote addresses.
The event brought together role players from industry and academia in the agricultural sector fulfilling the aim of the association which is to see alumni, agribusiness and UKZN in partnership.
The evening’s programme included a welcome from Dean and Head of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), Professor Albert Modi, who is on the committee of the association while the Networking Facilitator for the association, Ms Christine Cuénod, gave a report on its activities during the past year.
Acting Registrar of UKZN and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor Deo Jaganyi, introduced the keynote speakers.
Van Jaarsveld’s address emphasised UKZN’s continued commitment to excellence and transformation. He congratulated the Friends of UKZN Agriculture on their initiative and encouraged continued interaction between industry and the University.
‘The University is looking forward to developing more partnerships that will change the agricultural landscape in the province, the country and the continent,’ said van Jaarsveld. ‘And this event is a great step forward in this area.’
Xaba responded to van Jaarsveld’s address saying he was encouraged by the University’s commitment to agriculture in the province and quipped that ‘we should drop the “U” and make it Friends of KZN Agriculture,’ generating supportive applause from the audience.
Xaba also spoke about the Memorandum of Understanding between the University and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which emphasises both formal and informal education as well as programmes to upskill and build capacity within the farming sector.
Xaba quoted from Bill Guest’s book on the history of agricultural studies in Pietermaritzburg, titled:, A Fine Band of Farmers Are We, in which former principal at Cedara College, Mr John Fisher, said: ‘Anyone who lays claim to being considered a skilled farmer should be professionally as well equipped as a professional engineer’, demonstrating the importance of scientific training in combination with practical skills.
‘Dr van Jaarsveld, as I said at the outset, your address has been uplifting,’ said Xaba, ‘You have assured us that UKZN is in good hands and that agricultural research and teaching is fully supported and has clear direction. With our partnerships and commitment to collaboration within the sector we can only move forward and go from strength to strength.’
Chairman of the Friends of UKZN Agriculture committee, Mr Duncan Stewart of Lima Rural Development, gave the vote of thanks, acknowledging the success of the association through the support of UKZN, alumni and agribusiness. Stewart encouraged fellow alumni to continue to support the association.