Annual Future Farmers’ Day Celebrations

Promising Young Farmers Celebrated at Annual Future Farmers’ Day

Future Farmers, the KZN-based farming education initiative, held its 10th Annual Anniversary Celebration at Cedara Agricultural College earlier on Friday, April 15. The event was attended by Deputy Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Elaine Alexander, MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development, Cyril Xaba, agricultural-industry leaders, sponsors and farmers who came together to recognise the achievements of current and past agricultural apprentices from the Future Farmers programme.

Future Farmers is a unique social program which aims to cultivate the skills and development of young aspiring farmers from around the country. The programme provides young people with real job experiences in the field of agriculture, providing them with the opportunity to “learn as they earn” by finding apprentice positions on local and then later, international farms.

The brainchild of former Howick dairy farmer, Judy Stuart, Future Farmers has had many successful placements of eager young South African farmers on farms in New Zealand, Australia, America and Denmark and has become a recognized role-player in the future of KZN farming.

It has, with the backing of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, Kwanalu, gained overwhelming support over the last few years from agri-businesses, sponsors and the agricultural industry at large.

“On behalf of minister Zokwana, I would just like to say thank you to Judy (Stuart), her sponsors and supporters for the fantastic work that you are doing. You Judy, are changing lives and adding real substance to the growth and development of our youth and we applaud you for that. This programme is exactly what our department is looking for and will support,” said Alexander speaking at the event.

The itinerary included “Future Farmers” who eagerly shared their unique experiences, enthusiasm for agriculture and their vision for the future. Guest speakers included Deputy Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Elaine Alexander, MEC Xaba and the American Consul General, Frances Chisholm amongst others, who each applauded the young men and women for their tenacity and hard work in following their dreams and becoming role models for the industry.

“You are all very important cogs in the wheel that is turning the economic and social development of this country. It is clear that we have an up and coming generation of hard working and enterprising young South Africans. I am humbled by your experiences,” said MEC Xaba, addressing the Future Farmer participants present.

“Thank you Judy (Stuart) for helping unearth such talent. My gratitude goes to each and every one of you future farmers for choosing to work on the land,” he added.

From left to right are Cyril Xaba, MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development, with Judy Stuart, founder of the Future Farmers Initiative and Sandy La Marque, CEO of Kwanalu, at the annual Future Farmers Day.

The climax of the day saw outstanding participants in the programme each receive a certificate of recognition presented to them by MEC Xaba. A Platinum certificate and the Mdu memorial trophy was awarded to Scelo Mpheshwa for his exceptional service and for showing the most promise during his dairy apprenticeship.
Gold certificates were awarded to apprentices, who upon returning from overseas placements, have since specialised and shown excellence in their chosen fields. Green certificates were awarded to apprentices, who in their first two years of service, have stood out in the workplace and who show unlimited potential.

Kwanalu’s CEO, Sandy La Marque said that the organisation was exceptionally pleased with the way in which its members had stepped up to the plate by getting actively involved in initiatives such as the Future Farmers initiative.

“The goodwill contribution, display of mentorship and leading example by farmers is truly an inspiration for fellow farmers. Listening to the stories told by the young people today, it is humbling and at the same time awe-inspiring. A good work ethic, diligence and an unfettered commitment to the task at hand will result in awesome opportunities and unique possibilities, Kwanalu is proud to be a part of the Future Farmers program,” said La Marque.

Farmers and interested parties came from all over KZN to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Future Farmers organisation. In this image from left to right are Rory Milbank from Ego-Agri Consultants (Pietermaritzburg), Mike Willment from Underberg and Richard Mingay from Franklin.

Farmers and interested parties came from all over KZN to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Future Farmers organisation. In this image from left to right are Rory Milbank from Ego-Agri Consultants (Pietermaritzburg), Mike Willment from Underberg and Richard Mingay from Franklin.