Motheo Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College is the first TVET College in South Africa to have established a technology-driven greenhouse tunnel. The objective is to develop the skills of TVET graduates in the agri-horticultural sector and enhance their employability.
This is one of the milestones in the Stellenbosch University (SU) and Maastricht School of Management's (MSM) three year Orange Knowledge Programme titled “Strengthening Skills of TVET Staff and Students for Optimizing Water Usage and Climate Smart Agriculture in South Africa". The project is funded by the Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC), through the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The installation of the greenhouse tunnel is the result of a number of assessment activities which involved researchers from SU, Dutch greenhouse experts coordinated through MSM, as well as TVET staff from Boland, Motheo, and Vhembe Colleges. One of these assessments, conducted from December 2019 to January 2020, highlighted the key industry-driven skills requirement by the private horticulture sector in the domain of water-smart agri-horticulture. The investment in the greenhouse will therefore develop and enhance the skills and employability of TVET graduates.
During the handover on Friday 13 August 2021, Prof Dipiloane Phutsisi, principal of Motheo College, emphasized the need for cooperation and knowledge exchange to ensure successful crop production training in the greenhouse. Dr Rykie van der Westhuizen, a crop production specialist, inspected the greenhouse and approved its operation and functionality by carrying out the official handover and sign-off to Motheo College. Over the next few weeks, Dr Van der Westhuizen will play a crucial role in the operationalization of the greenhouse and starting with horticultural training in the greenhouse for college students.
Mr Brent Stevens from Vegtech, the suppliers of the tunnel, also introduced a number of TVET staff to the technical aspects of the greenhouse tunnel. Another greenhouse tunnel has since been completed at Vhembe TVET College in Limpopo, and a third tunnel, at Boland TVET College, should be completed by November 2021.
Mr Peter Makae
Manager in the Office of the Principal, Motheo TVET College, Bloemfontein
Mr Manuel Jackson
Programme officer, Stellenbosch University Water Institute