Developing and equipping young farmers to tackle issues of food insecurity, land reform and youth unemployment
Being the first of its kind in South Africa, the AgroEcology Academy supports and work with young farmers to counter the compounding humanitarian challenges of increasingly high youth unemployment, nutritional insecurity and the need to accelerate social justice around land reform through a combination of formal qualifications, short course training and extended periods of hands-on learning.
At present, the Academy offers a nationally accredited four-year youth development programme in sustainable food systems – which started in 2017 – that forms part of an integrated research and policy advocacy programme led by Stellenbosch University and the Sustainability Institute aimed at addressing these issues. At this stage, no new enrollments will be accepted.
Curriculum Outline (2017 – 2020)
The full four-year programme curriculum consist out of obtaining a NQF Level 1 qualification in Mixed Farming Systems in year one, followed by obtaining a NQF Level 4 qualification in Plant Production in year two. During the third year, young farmers were placed on farms as part of their internship year and were mentored by the farm owners and co-workers. In the final year, students will be allocated land and work independently or in small, self-selected teams to develop their own micro-enterprises within a business incubator environment.
Importantly, the learning process of the four-year qualification is modulated and therefore allows students to enter with the option to exit at the end of each year with a nationally recognised qualification.
- Students undergo an integrated learning process where their technical skills develop symbiotically with their understanding of small business management and agriculture
- Young farmers gain important work experience on organic farms while beginning to understand the challenges of managing their own planting schedule over a full year while also managing real clients
- Students are provided an important opportunity to gain practical work experience by exploring a particular area of interest for their future farming careers
- Agro-entrepreneurs are provided a safe-to-fail space for developing their own businesses