The Agriculture Youth Development Initiative  for South Africa
in the South African agricultural sector

1 JUNE 1998


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  1. Statement of purpose
  2. Background
  3. Description of the programme
  4. Rudimentary steps for implementation
  5. Estimate of cost and benefits
  6. Impacts
  7. Stakeholders and partners in this Programme
  8. Role of the National Department of Agriculture in this Programme
  9. Current initiatives in the National Department of Agriculture and  the Provincial Departments of Agriculture
  10. Reference documents
  11. Contact persons


Here is a document that articulates the aspiration and hopes of the National Department of Agriculture (NDA) concerning Youth Development Initiative, aims to commit itself to creating awareness of, encouraging and helping South African youth, particularly Black youth, to avail itself to the unlimited agriculture-related opportunities. As explained in the document, the initiative is meant to be all inclusive as it is ideally designed to cater for young people from all walks of life starting with the ones in the rural areas and progressing up to those who are pursuing or planning to study agriculture-related disciplines in tertiary education.

The document reiterates the fact that the Agriculture Youth Development Initiative is part and parcel of the broader mission of the NDA to ensure access to agriculture and promote the contribution of agriculture to the development of all communities, society at large and the national economy in order to enhance income, food security, employment and quality of life in a sustainable manner. The Youth Development Programme is, to a large extent, the backbone of the mission of the NDA.



The Agriculture Youth Development Initiative aims at facilitating the development of programmes that will capture the interest and commitment of South African youth, particularly young Black people, to agriculture and agriculture-related opportunities that exist in the sector. Although the disadvantaged groups will be the primary focus of this initiative, other non-target groups such as the White male youth will also be included. The initiative also aims to develop support structures and incentive opportunities for its target where possible. The purpose of this initiative is more than just creating interest in pursuing agriculture as a career. It is also about encouraging everyone who has an interest to embark on agriculture-related activities. As part of the awareness campaign it must be stated very clearly that one does not need to own a farm to be involved in agricultural activities. There are a series of activities where people can get involved despite the fact that they may not have any background in agriculture. The initiative should also undertake to market the spin-offs of agriculture, which are currently totally understated, and generally not seen as part of agriculture.

The purpose will be achieved through:

  1. identifying opportunities in rural areas in which the youth can participate ;
  2. identifying appropriate young individuals and groups who would benefit from this initiative;
  3. designing assistance packages to benefit special youth; and
  4. creating financial assistance programmes for young people studying agriculture-related disciplines at tertiary institutions.


2.1 Broader context of this initiative

In response to a national outcry for the government to do something to improve the employment opportunities for the young people of South Africa, the National Youth Commission Act was passed in 1996. This Act identified the need to "redress the imbalances of the past and to create a national youth policy aimed at empowering the youth and allowing them to realise their full potential through optimal access to opportunities".

Among the problems identified were the high percentage of youth, especially Black youth, which lacked access to further (tertiary) education and consequently were denied, access to the job market. Furthermore, there is a high percentage of youth, again particularly Black youth, who remain unemployed even after they have completed their tertiary education.

The National Youth Commission has published a Resource Paper aimed at assisting discussions in the formulation of the National Youth Policy for South Africa. The National Youth Commission has also written to each of the National and Provincial Departments requesting them to assess the needs of their sectors in terms of the youth and to develop appropriate programmes to address these concerns. In addition, the National Youth Commission has established the "Inter-Departmental Committee on Youth Affairs" (IDC) to co-ordinate government programmes, develop a consolidated youth budget, oversee programme implementation and to integrate programmes across Departmental lines. The IDC also agreed to prepare a Guide to Government Youth Programme. (The preparation is already in progress.)

2.2 Agricultural context of this initiative

Over and above the context highlighted above, there are specific concerns that are affecting the agricultural sector and agricultural field, which necessitates a very serious look into the role that young people should play as they will be the leaders of tomorrow.

In the agricultural sector the demographic trends have shown that the youth, particularly young males, are migrating from the rural areas to urban neighbourhoods. This is occurring at the same time that the average age of farmers is increasing (the average age of rural farmers is above 50 years). Amongst the Black youth there is little interest in considering a professional career in agriculture. At present, only a very few initiatives exist for replacing the declining and ageing farmer population (particularly amongst rural farmers). There is a lack of awareness about the scope of opportunities in the agricultural field, including a lack of awareness around the economic diversity of agricultural enterprises. The education system might not be doing justice in increasing awareness of agriculture among scholars and students. Only certain schools offer agriculture as a subject. (In many instances it is offered as an alternative to science subject streams, rather than as part of the science subject stream. This in itself poses a serious disadvantage to those students who follow the agriculture subject stream. When they are at tertiary institutions they cannot follow agricultural careers because agriculture is offered as part of science only.)

Agricultural awareness, training and education are not adequately addressed in primary or secondary school curricula. The inadequacies of Mathematics and Science courses in schools for Black students have minimised these students’ opportunities for acceptance into tertiary agricultural programmes.

There are other disincentives to young persons interested in pursuing a farming career. There are the difficulties in accessing key resources such as land, finances and market information. Also of increasing concern is the risks that are associated with farming, natural hazards that cast doubt on economic viability of farming, and the dangers that are facing farming communities due to manifestation of crime in this sphere.

The National Department of Agriculture has already identified four areas of concern in the professional field of agriculture, namely shortage of:

  1. Veterinarians
  2. engineers
  3. economists
  4. statisticians

The economic role that agriculture plays is in many instances downplayed or understated, which might contribute to the low prestige that agriculture is currently enjoying among youth. For instance, the contribution of agriculture in all provinces and nationally, to growth and development makes up a significant amount (4,5% of GDP) as well as providing 1 139 427 jobs. Export of agricultural commodities has grown by 43,9% over the past four years (1994 to 1997). The continued viability of a strong agricultural industry in South Africa is in the interest of all its citizens, but its ongoing success will become dependant on the availability of an adequate supply of interested, competent and entrepreneurially minded new farmers.

Together with the implementation of programmes emanating from this initiative researching of the current state of youth awareness, youth interest and youth involvement in agriculture should be undertaken. Current enrolment and placement after completion of tertiary education should also be monitored and recorded. This would enable the country to be in a position to understand the trends and also to predict the future situation as well as to take corrective steps where necessary. The initiative should avoid a situation where it simply embarks on training and retraining of youth into agricultural fields as there are young people with qualifications in agriculture who do not find jobs in the agricultural sector or agricultural professional field. Also critical important is that the initiative should take into account the globalisation of the agricultural sector, including linking the initiative to other initiatives which are outside the agricultural sector. The Foresight programme prepared by the Department of Arts Culture, Science and Technology could be a good starting point.


3.1 Target groups

This initiative is aimed primarily at a Black youth (male and female), White female youth, and rural youth as focus groups. However, it will not exclude the White male youth. The initiative will address the issue of youth at various levels, since the problem facing youth is found at different levels. Secondly, the programme launched at a particular level, should feed into other programmes or at least complement them. For this reason it is of critical importance that agricultural youth initiatives should be co-ordinated nationally.

3.2 Target areas of the initiative

3.2.1 Programme for primary school students

It is already at this level that children become aware of careers, and agriculture must be known as one of the career options they might choose. In order to achieve this objective, there must be an awareness programme to conscientise children about agriculture and to sell agriculture as an alternative option. This programme will have a two-fold approach: curricula review so that agriculture should be included as part of the school curricula; secondly, glossy brochures / pamphlets on agriculture should be distributed at primary schools.

3.2.2 Programme for secondary school students

Critical to understand is that children make two choices during the course of their high school career: subject choices and career choices. In many schools (those which offer agriculture as a subject) agriculture is offered as a minor subject to those students who do not want to do Science subjects (Mathematics and Physical Science). Subject streams of schools must be reviewed so as to offer agriculture as part of a Science subject stream. This would broaden access to agriculture at tertiary level, especially universities.

Secondly, the attitude of students towards agriculture must be changed. The perception of agriculture, particularly among young Black people is that of working on lands and farms and to be poverty stricken. The attitude can be changed by making students aware of the multitude career options that agriculture offers.

Once an interest in agriculture has been created, students must be afforded financial support so that they can pursue further studies in agriculture at tertiary institutions. Since curricula review is the domain of educational institutions, the Department of Education has to be involved in this.

3.2.3 Programme for students at tertiary institutions

This programme is mainly in the form of financial support. As students leave secondary schools for tertiary institutions, they must be afforded the financial support to pursue studies in agriculture. In this instance, tertiary institutions would be administering the bursary scheme on behalf of the Departments of Agriculture.

In many instances, students with Matric exemptions cannot study further because of financial problems. Such students should be given bursaries to pursue a career in agriculture. The Department can also invest in bridging courses for matriculants with poor results so that they can eventually pursue studies in agriculture. In fact, these bridging courses should/could be linked to the practical experience and exposure (discussed under 3.8).

Furthermore, the Departments of Agriculture can go into partnership with tertiary institutions to link their training with both the Departments and the agricultural sector, the so-called experiential approach.

Lastly, the Departments must be involved in graduate placement programmes so that they can absorb high calibre graduandi to start a career in agriculture. A person who joins Agricultural Departments is not necessarily someone who has been trained in agriculture. For example, the Departments can absorb legal, economic, accountant graduates, etc.

3.2.4 Programme for qualified students (post tertiary youth)

Sometimes graduandi do not /cannot find jobs after they completed their tertiary training. Such students should be targeted and re-trained in agricultural fields.

3.2.5 Programme for graduandi qualifications in agriculture

First and foremost, Departments of Agriculture should try and absorb people with qualifications in agriculture in the system, and not let them be absorbed by other sectors. Secondly, these Departments should set up a mechanism of allowing these students to access the agricultural sector. This can be done by involving financial institutions that could give special loans at special rates to these potential farmers.


4.1 The focus areas of the initiative

Agriculture Youth Development Initiative

Name of programme 
Brief description
Target group
  1. Career awareness programme
  1. Creating an awareness of agriculture at primary school level
  2. Marketing agriculture as a viable career option to high school students
  3. Promoting agriculture as a science subject
  4. Arranging farm visits for scholars
  1. Primary school youth

  2. High school youth

  3. High school youth
  4. Primary and high school youth
  1. Recruitment programme
  1. Recruiting school leavers to venture into agriculture-related studies at tertiary institutions
  2. Placing graduandi into the various professional fields of agriculture
  3. Retraining graduandi into agricultural fields
1. Matriculants

2. Final year students

3. Graduandi (who just completed their studies)

School garden concept
  1. Promoting the school garden concept at various schools
1. Primary and high school
Young farmer entrepreneurship
  1. Offering assistance to graduandi to venture into farming entrepreneurial projects
  2. Targeting non-graduandi who have entrepreneurial potential
1. Graduandi who just completed their studies

2. All youth who have the potential of venturing into entrepreneurship
  1. Internship for students in agriculture- related study fields
  1. Vacation work
  2. Partnership with tertiary institutions
  3. Placement of students at farms (direct exposure)
1 Tertiary students
2 Tertiary students

3 Tertiary students

Exchange programmes
  1. Inter-regional exchange programmes
  2. Inter-provincial exchange programmes
  3. International exchange programmes
1. Tertiary students and young farmers

2. Tertiary students and young farmers

3. Tertiary students and young farmers
Youth leadership programmes
  1. Leadership development programmes based on the 4-H programmes used by the Canadians and Americans
1. Rural youth plus interested youth
Partnership in existing programmes
  1. Supporting existing ventures such as the NAMPO schools’ programme
1. All youth, but parameters are defined by partners
Training of rural youth workers
  1. Training people who deal with rural developmental programmes
1. Youth leadership, preferably young leaders and trainers

4.2 Priority areas and phases of the programme

4.2.1 Introduction

The phases will be revised as more information becomes available from provinces and other services.

The programme will be divided into three major implementation phases, viz.,

The programme will be phased in over a period of five years

4.2.2 Details of the phases Phase I

  1. Introduction of the programme
  2. Pilot programmes with some provinces and the role and relationship of the National Department with regard to these pilot programmes
  3. Expanding the awareness activities
  4. - Distribution of pamphlets on agriculture
    - Farm visits by students
    - Career awareness programmes
    - Veterinary career awareness programmes

  5. Liaising and networking with the key stakeholders to get them involved or at least supporting the initiative
  6. Review of tertiary entry requirements
  7. Introducing the garden concept and initiating a few garden projects
  8. Supporting the NAMPO initiative/partnership with NAMPO Phase 2

  1. Evaluation and revision of projects already running
  2. Implement and involve all the provinces in most of the programmes
  3. List the number of activities that are taking place at provincial level Phase 3

  1. Monitoring progress and successes (on-going evaluation)
  2. Redressing mistakes/failures
  3. Referring and cross reference
  4. Continued co-ordination and communication of projects
  5. Complete implementation of the programme
  6. Involvement of all stakeholders, from the Public Service Departments, NGOs, CBOs, youth organisations, private sector and industry
  7. Promoting self-sustainability of individual projects or groups of projects


The cost below is given in thousands of rands.






YEAR 3-4



Awareness pamphlets and promotional + PR






Programme (support)





2 300

Provincial meetings






General administration






Consultancy and development costs










1 025


The benefits can be calculated on the basis of a number of factors such as the anticipated increases in employment for youth, the increased productivity of small producers, the overall increase in economic performance measurable by the contribution to provincial and national GDP percentages.

Other benefits cannot be easily calculated as they relate to intangible matters such as the pride and interest in agriculture and natural resource sustainability, overall improvement in the competency of younger people's contribution to South African society in general through leadership and civic development programmes.

Another soft benefit that may be hard to quantify is the easing of urban migration on local and city municipalities.


This Chapter deals with an attempt to identify the negative and neutral consequences of the introduction of the Future Farmers' Programme in South Africa. It contrasts the benefits discussed above.

A controversial point of this programme is that a large component of the awareness and development campaign falls within the jurisdiction of the Education portfolio and with Provincial Government mandates for implementation.

The broad nature of the proposal also means there could be significant duplication of effort and interest amongst the different sectors leading to a dilution of benefits at best or confusion amongst the targeted youth at worst.

Without a comprehensive consultation and implementation process a real risk to the strategy is apathy on the part of provincial and industry partners who are key to disseminating and sustaining the programme and its objectives.

Obtaining adequate funding from government and international donors to kick-start the campaign until other local sources are found to sustain the programme is another serious impediment.

If the programme were successful some may claim that young people may be attracted away from employment more vital to the country. Historically, examples of such reverses to agricultural employment undermining sectors are hard to find anywhere in the world. Therefore, at worst, the impact of a successful programme would likely be neutral.

The Agriculture Youth initiative will not adversely affect other existing programmes currently in place such as the provincial 4-H programme in the Eastern Cape, nor the NAMPO programme run by the private sector. In fact it is anticipated that the Future Farmers' Programme will enhance rather than impede existing programmes. As far as environmental issues, tourism and other ecological factors are concerned the impact of this Initiative is considered as being neutral.



  1. Provincial Departments
  2. Educational authorities (Ministry of Education)
  3. Provincial educational authorities
  4. Agricultural institutions (Colleges, Institutions, Boskop, Glen Colleges)
  5. Tertiary institutions (Universities, Technikons)
  6. Agricultural sector (industry), Commercial farmers / producers, Small farmers / producers
  7. NAMPO
  8. National Department of Agriculture
  9. Community level leaders
  10. (CBO’S ; NGO’S)
  11. Land Affairs
  12. Water Affairs and Forestry
  13. National Youth Commission

Partners include

  1. Public Works
  2. Health
  3. Land Affairs
  4. Environmental Affairs
  5. Water Affairs and Forestry
  6. Land Bank
  7. Department of Trade and Industry
  8. Department of Finance
  9. Business sector (including financial institutions)


  1. Initiative custodian
  2. Leadership / promoter of the initiative
  3. Initiator
  4. Facilitator:
  5. - systems
    - research resources / different models for the programme

  6. The monitor and assessor
  7. Communicator of progress of the national initiative
  8. Report to Cabinet / Parliament (accountable to Parliament)
  9. Provide advice
  10. Consultation with other countries :

- Government
- International organisations

What the role of the NDA should not be

  1. Not be the implementer
  2. Not be the sole source of financing
  3. Not dictating what should be done


9.1 National Department of Agriculture

The National Department of Agriculture has a number of initiatives going, some of them which are not exclusively targeted at young, but which definitely focuses on youth.


This programme is about developing entrepreneurship in agriculture by assisting people financially to access the agricultural economic market. The youth are encouraged to embark on self-employment. This programme has three broad goals:

  2. The aim of this programme is to afford students the opportunity to participate in a number of short-term work experiences in a professional setting, which provides the interns with a much needed on-the-job training, a combination of training, supervision and evaluation. The notion of mentoring is central to this programme.

  4. Through bursary schemes the National Department of Agriculture will afford students the opportunity to obtain tertiary qualification in agriculture and agriculture-related fields.

  6. Although this project is not exclusively for young people it has a focus on youth as well. The purpose of this is to get youth involved in LandCare initiatives throughout the country.

  8. This programme is about promoting primary animal health care in rural areas.


This programme is run in collaboration with the Medunsa Veterinarian Students' Council, and it is aimed at creating awareness of and interest in veterinary science as a career option among students.

Provincial Departments of Agriculture
North West Province

This Province is involved in three initiatives:

  2. This institute focuses on the promotion of food security and income generation; the role of women in agriculture; and youth in the agricultural industry.

  4. The department is at present moving towards the phased graduation, of women and youth, from learner farmer on leasehold property to full-time commercial farmers on free-hold property.


A number of college graduates are also being assisted with the establishment of farming ventures such as poultry, piggeries, etc.

Provincial Departments of Agriculture
Eastern Cape Province

  2. The purpose of these clubs is four-fold, embodying educational, economic, social and recreational aims, all designed to help young people to develop into good citizens. The aim of the Department is to persuade the formation of these 4-H clubs in all the schools and arrange certain schools as pilot 4-H schools.

  4. Furthermore, the department is promoting a culture of growing vegetables in school gardens or in communal gardens.

    Particularly three regions are advanced in the formation of the 4-H clubs, namely East Griqualand, Eastern Region and Central Region.

    At Lusikisiki, in the East Griqualand region there is a success story of a club that is now producing vegetables for selling to the community. The Yonda Pupils' Club in Whittlesea (Northern Region) has acquired 4,5 ha of land for cropping.

  6. The department is also involved in out of school youth (post matriculates and post diplomats) as a way of creating jobs.

  8. This involves of out of school youth and school-going youth. The purpose of this project is to create jobs for members and secondly to produce vegetables for food security as well as cash income.

  10. This centre takes a group of unemployed young people and exposes them to sheep shearing demonstrations by professionals from New Zealand.


This club is in the process of instilling Christian values to the youth and to develop the moral of the young children in their environment, where alcohol abuse is rife. Some parents have made their backyard gardens available to be developed by these children.

Provincial Departments of Agriculture
Free State Province

This province will be launching a youth in agriculture initiative on 16 June 1998, after which a formal process of establishing youth needs will follow.

Provincial Departments of Agriculture
Mpumalanga Province

Provincial Departments of Agriculture
Northern Cape Province

Provincial Departments of Agriculture
Northern Province

Provincial Departments of Agriculture


  1. National Youth Policy 2000
  2. Interdepartmental Committee on Youth Affairs Programme Plan 1998/99
  3. National Youth Policy Resource Paper
  4. Youth Works – July 1995
  5. National Youth Commission: Framework for a National Youth Policy for South Africa (May 1997)
  6. National Youth Commission: IDC Programme Briefing (February 1998)
  7. National Youth Commission: National Youth Action Plan
  8. 4-H in Canada


Mr Wilson Rooy
Special Programmes Officer – Department of Agriculture, Pretoria. Tel. (012) 319 6242

Ms A. Marshall
Assistant Director – Department of Agriculture, Bloemfontein. Tel. (051) 861 1225

Ms S. Kekana
Assistant Director – Department of Agriculture, Mpumalanga. Tel. (013) 947 2551 X 260

Mr S. Radebe
Director – Department of Agriculture, Pietermaritzburg.  Tel. (0331) 43 1397

Mr L. Fisser
Deputy Director – Department of Agriculture, Mmabatho. Tel. (0140) 89 5128

Ms D. Giwu
Youth & Gender co-ordinator – Department of Agriculture, Bisho.  Tel. (040) 609 3489

Ms J. Ntsoane
Acting Deputy Director – Department of Agriculture, Pietersburg. Tel. (015) 295 7090

Mr N. Mhlauli
Assistant Director – Department of Agriculture, Germiston. Tel. (011) 872 1047

Mr M. Fani
Deputy Director – Department of Agriculture, Kimberley. Tel. (0531) 81 4049

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