Partnership to create excellence in agricultural education
Government through the National Development Plan Vision 2030 (NDP) has emphasised on the importance of building an inclusive and integrated rural economy where local government, rural communities and business create partnerships to drive local economic development and maintain sustainability. Tongaat Hulett believes that business is a significant contributor to the planning and implementation of the NDP.
“The company is cognisant of the instrumental role it can play in creating an environment in which local economic development can be effectively delivered,” said Bongani Gumede, Tongaat Hulett Land Policy Executive.
In 2012, Tongaat Hulett signed a Collaboration Agreement with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in KwaZulu-Natal. It focused on the concept of sustainable rural development, with an emphasis on education and training, food security and capacity building.
The Department of Agriculture and uThungulu District Municipality endorsed a partnership between Owen Sitole College of Agriculture and Tongaat Hulett, which aims to transform the College into a Centre of Excellence in sustainable agriculture in accordance with the standards of Agricultural Training Institutions. The partnership looks to harness the potential of agriculture in the surrounding rural areas, focusing on:
- Accelerating the establishment of experimentation plots to ensure that the students obtain hands-on experience in various aspects of sugarcane agriculture. This resulted to a 20 hectare plot being allocated specifically towards this project.
- Capacity building of the academic staff with the aim to strengthen the College’s capacity to develop and provide quality and relevant educational programmes, practicals and research that will support the local socio-economic agenda. A total of five lecturers received support to attend a five week Senior Certificate Course in Sugarcane Agriculture. In addition, 20 lecturers were supported to attend a week-long course in moderation.
- Promoting the crosspollination of information through company-led expert lectures. These lectures help to bridge the gap between what is being taught in lecture halls and its application in the workplace. A total of 142 students have attended these expert lectures.
- Awarding 18 bursaries to high potential students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds with a passion for agriculture.
Gumede concluded, “In partnership with government and society Tongaat Hulett strives to create value for all stakeholders in an all inclusive approach to growth and development, by making company business relevant to the complementary interests of local communities. The company will continue to look for opportunities partner with government to foster sustainable development”