Dutch colleagues from various educational institutions visited Stellenbosch University (SU) during the first week of June 2022.
The visit served as an opportunity to wrap up the Strengthening Education and Agri-business interaction for sustained employment and agricultural Development in South Africa project (SEAD-SA). The project ran from 2018 to 2021 to tackle skills shortages, with pilots in the poultry, dairy and piggery sectors in KwaZulu-Natal and the horticulture sector in the Western Cape.
The visiting team was led by Ms Jeannette van de Steeg, senior lecturer and a member of the International Food & Agribusiness (IFA) management team of HAS University (Dutch Hogeschool) of Applied Sciences, and Mr Toon Keijsers, also a senior lecturer there. HAS is an independent higher education institution in 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, specialising in food, agriculture, horticulture, nature and environment.
This project brought together educational institutes from different levels and industry in one learning-oriented network. Elangeni Technical and Vocational Education and Training College was the leading partner in South Africa and responsible for the coordination and administration of activities in KwaZulu-Natal.
Colleagues from that province accompanied the Dutch delegation to meetings with different colleagues in the Faculty of AgriSciences at SU, as well as with teaching staff at Elsenburg College, as well as Boland College in Worcester. They discussed ways to expand collaboration and exchange programmes for both staff and students. Students in SU's master's programme in sustainable agriculture attended a guest lecture by Ms van de Steeg and Mr Keijsers.
The SEAD-SA initiative offered students practical teaching and exposure to relevant sectors to increase their employability. Simultaneously, it increased the chances of industry partners to find well-matched staff for positions needed to increase production. This concept was put in place to be a key driver of sustained success in South Africa's agribusiness and employment sectors.
The partnership further aimed to link the Dutch “green education column" with one in South Africa, and jointly design and roll out educational models. It aimed to maximise the linkages between industry requirements in terms of competencies of future staff, and how the educational institutions – from FET (further education and training) to university level – can best build those competencies amongst students.
Also part of the delegation were colleagues from the following Dutch education institutions:
- The Aeres University of Applied Sciences in Wageningen, which focuses on the development of professionals and their capabilities to make responsible, sustainable decisions in a complex world.
- Wageningen University, priding itself that all its “study programmes have a link with healthy food and living environments". It focuses on food, feed and biobased production, natural resources and living environment, and society and well-being.
- Yuverta, providing agricultural vocational education and training courses (on EQF levels 1–4) in Europe. They also develop expertise among professionals in the agricultural and environmental sectors.
The Dutch team also paid site visits to Kromco, Laastedrift farm in Ceres and Skyvines wine farm near Worcester to talk to industry partners.
Kromco, one of the largest deciduous fruit packing facilities in South Africa, was an industry partner of the project in the Western Cape. Students from Elsenburg are currently doing internships there. During the visit to Kromco, the Dutch team discussed this collaboration.
Afterwards, the visitor were shown the facility production site, which includes some of the latest pre-sorting technology available for apples and where storage, grading, packing, marketing and distribution of fruit all happen on one site.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between SU and HAS to increase collaboration on teaching, learning and exchanges between the two educational institutions.
For more details, please contact Ms Julia Harper, Manager: Food Security Initiative, at SU on email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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TOP: Mr Keijsers and Ms van de Steeg with master's students studying Sustainable Agriculture at SU. PICTURE: ANNEKE MÜLLER
ABOVE: At the entrance to Kromco, from left to right, are Kromco's Mr Hennie Claasens (Market Access Manager), Ms Angelique Pretorius (Technical Manager) and Mr Riaan Meyer (Production Manager), as well as Mr Ernst Moller (lecturer at Elsenburg/Western Cape Department of Agriculture) and Mr Sebastian Schippers (HR Manager, Kromco). The guests from the Netherlands are Mr Harm Holleman (Aeres University of Applied Sciences, Wageningen), Mr Toon Keijsers (HAS), Ms Maatje Müskens and Ms Karin Elferink from Yuverta, and Ms Jeannette van de Steeg (HAS). PICTURE: ANNEKE MÜLLER