The plan, which Meyer unveiled at the AgriSA Water Symposium in Somerset West on Monday, involves the introduction of more agricultural subjects in schools and eventually the opening of more agricultural schools in the province as well as more diploma courses for existing colleges.
Meyer said: “I believe we must continue to support our education in agriculture. If you are exporting 45% of all the agricultural produce (in South Africa), you need more agricultural schools.
“If you are talking about making agriculture sexy, you need to start here. I've already engaged with the Education minister and said I want more agricultural schools in the province.”
Meyer said the province - which is home to 6 000 commercial farmers (20% of the nation’s commercial farmers) and 7 000 small-scale farmers - had to have more than the three agricultural schools it boasts today and that he was going to make a compelling case to the provincial budget council to ensure this happened.
Meyer recognised AgriSA’s input into the curriculum of a new diploma in agriculture that his department wanted to introduce into the education system.
AgriSA president Dan Kriek said the organisation hosted the conference as it “believes that the availability and quality of South Africa's water resources for the agricultural sector are under threat and wanted to have people and organisations from the entire agricultural value chain discuss current concerns and future scenarios”.
Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was unable to make the conference, but she was represented by Water and Sanitation director-general Anil Singh.
Mike Muller from the Wits School of Governance made a presentation to the colloquium about managing uncertain climates (both weather and politics) in which he urged farmers to learn to look at the bigger regional and international picture when it came to agriculture and agricultural policies.
“Listen to the news. Why is the French president so concerned about the fires in Brazil? Because he knows that if there's more production of food in Brazil, there’s less production for the French farmers who vote for the president of France,” Muller said.
He said that it was important for governments to understand the local pressures in the context of the bigger global picture.@MwangiGithahu