There can be no doubt that youth development and job creation are top of mind in South Africa currently, so this session at Nation in Conversation – taking place during NAMPO from the 14th to 18th May – is sure to attract massive attention as a result.
For the country’s leading agribusiness, AFGRI, one of the first signatories of the Youth Employment Service (YES), commitment to developing South Africa’s youth is non-negotiable. Launched in April this year by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the initiative is aimed at empowering one million unemployed South African youth.
AFGRI was among the first companies to sign-up, along with other leading companies Absa, Discovery, Exxaro, FirstRand, Illovo, Imperial, Investec, MTN, Nedbank, Netcare, Pick n Pay, Sasol, Shoprite, Spar, Step, Uber, Unilever and Woolworths.
Chris Venter, CEO of AFGRI Group Holdings says that from his personal perspective there is a deep commitment to and understanding of the plight of youth in our country – and this view is entrenched at AFGRI. “Government needs the assistance of the private sector to manage the unemployment crises in the country and the least we can do is get involved in the offering of intern programmes and training, and through initiatives such as the YES project.”
Across the group, there are also several youth programmes in place, and AFGRI’s Corporate Social Investment (“CSI”) initiatives, focused on the key areas of food security, education support for schools, water security and poverty alleviation, are aimed at having a positive impact on the youth, emerging and commercial farmers, as well as the communities in which the group operates.
To date, AFGRI has supported 20 education projects, reaching over 7,000 learners; 23 food and water security projects, benefiting almost 9,000 community members and learners; six poverty alleviation projects, benefiting over 1,000 community members; and seven employee community initiatives.
The Emerging Farmer Development Initiative is housed in a standalone company called Harvest Time Investments. The programme aims to develop emerging farmers both in South Africa and on the continent and provide the essentials of farming through a diverse range of practical and theoretical training over a five-year period. The overarching rationale for Harvest Time Investments is to ensure sustainable agriculture.
“As a leader in the field of agriculture we are pleased with the tremendous success that our Emerging Farmer and Abba Training Programmes have achieved. What we have learnt from this is that practical experience and application is key, coupled with the support of mentors, access to finance and guidance from agronomists, for example. The result is a lasting formula which supports sustainable food security and most importantly enables the farmer to be economically successful.”
To encourage youth to attend NAMPO this year and give them a first-hand experience of the event, AFGRI has made free tickets available to 44 University of Pretoria students from the Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sciences.