The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC Xolile Nqatha used his official address at the 2018 graduation at Fort Cox College of Agriculture and Forests to caution students against striving to be tenderprenuers.
He called upon the graduates to work towards being their own bosses, having their own farms and to plough the knowledge they have acquired at Fort Cox in the province.
“You graduate at a time where unemployment is worryingly high, at a time where scores of agriculture graduates are struggling to find jobs, at a time where our province is ravaged by poverty with about 72,9% people reported to be living in poverty in the Eastern Cape.”
The MEC said in order to achieve the goal of seeing the students become successful business people “a total of 203 unemployed graduates were placed on an internship program. In 2017/18, a total of 150 youth underwent a cooperative incubator programme focusing on broiler, layer and vegetable production at the Rural Wealth Creation Centre at Fort Cox College.”
One of the college’s top achieving students Nadipha Damse said she was happy with the knowledge and skills she had acquired during her studies at the institution.
“I have learnt a lot about Agriculture here. I would advise young people to get involved in the sector. Agriculture is not what people say it is out there. People should try it out as it is a guaranteed lifetime career,” said the student who was awarded the top achiever in the Diploma in Agriculture specialising in Animal Production.
The graduation at the institution’s main campus in Middledrift saw students receiving diplomas in Agriculture in the fields of Animal and Crop Production, Agri-Business and Forestry.
Nqatha also announced new plans aimed at addressing the infrastructure backlog that has troubled the institution and the Tsolo Agriculture and Rural Development Institute (TARDI). “To address the challenge of infrastructure backlog at both of our institutions, a College Infrastructure revitalization program is implemented in phases as an intervention.
To date, six infrastructure upgrade projects, including renovations of classes and ablution facilities, building of new hostels, water and sanitation as well as electricity upgrades were implemented with an investment of R48 million,” he said.
The college’s principal Professor Patrick Masika said the students’ achievements were as a result of dedication, hard work and sacrifice. “What you have achieved here you should never underestimate. You must go out there and show that this institution has trained you well,” he said
The academic echoed the MECs sentiments calling on the students to use their skills in order to improve the lives of the poor people in the province.