OPINIONS: Agriculture pupils’ views

Agriculture is the foundation of the economy, and getting young people involved in it is essential to boosting it, as well as to supplying food for the community and opening up job opportunities for the young population.

Despite the fact that young people (those between the ages of 18 and 34) make up a third of the population, The Water Wheel, a science and technology magazine, reports that South African farmers are, on average, 62 years old.

What can be done to encourage young people to get more involved in agriculture? We gathered opinions on youth involvement in agriculture from a group of high school pupils from Healdtown Comprehensive High School, Dalubuhle High School, Hector Petersen High School, Phandulwazi Agricultural High School, and Eyabantu High School.

These are their opinions.

Why did you choose agriculture as a subject?

Kungawo: I chose agriculture as a subject because I had to do an analysis, and I discovered that with agriculture, I can change the world and the way we do things.

Esona: I chose agriculture because I recognised the potential for it to transform an area. It provides us with food, meat from animals, and other agricultural techniques. Agriculture teaches us to take care of our environment and to understand the plants and animals that live there and how to take care of them.

Alulutho: I picked agriculture because I enjoy working with animals and farming. Growing up, I used to assist my grandfather on the farm, which further sparked my interest in agriculture.

Sazi: I chose agriculture because my grandmother was an agricultural teacher, and she spoke fondly of agriculture, which piqued my curiosity.

Amahle: I chose agriculture since it is a source of life. It is the cause of our existence.

Lindokuhle: I learned about farming before I entered high school. We can reduce poverty through agriculture, and you do not have to start by supplying supermarkets; you can start small. The first step was deciding to study in agriculture in order to satisfy my curiosity about it and learn more.

Mhlenkosi: My parents were subsistence farmers, and I am a regular farm girl who grew up on a farm. I chose agriculture because it is a way of life for me; agriculture is essential to our economy. I wish to contribute to strengthening our economy.

Sinesipho: There are numerous opportunities in agriculture, so that is why I chose it. For instance, there are numerous fields in my area that people could utilise, but they are unable to do so due to a lack of agricultural skills. To assist them utilize these lands and put bread on the table, I want to learn more about agriculture.

Iviwe: As agriculture contains a wealth of knowledge on a variety of topics, I am interested in it in order to advance my community and country.

What field of agriculture interests you and why?

Kungawo: I like forestry since it advances the sector and promotes the environment.

Esona: I like forestry and poultry. We learn about the environment in forestry, and we get to witness the worth of chickens in poultry.

Alulutho: I enjoy livestock farming. For instance, cows provide the world with milk and meat. Agriculture is crucial in a number of ways.

Sazi: Anything involving animals. I used to herd livestock while growing up because we had them. It also made it easier for us to sleep with something in our stomachs. That is why livestock farming interests me.

Amahle: I will go with forestry. In our daily existence, trees are helpful because they provide us with items like the furniture we use every day.

Lindokuhle: Horticulture is the area of agriculture that most fascinates me since it allows us to improve our farming systems by reducing our carbon footprint. Keeping the plants alive, decreasing hazardous emissions from our environment that damage our productivity.

Mhlenkosi: I am interested in aquaculture. We are currently experiencing a water crisis on a global scale, and some species are in danger of going extinct in the coming years. The major reason I am interested in aquaculture is to preserve these species.

Sinesipho: My late grandmother had a garden and used to ask us to water her crops, therefore that is why I am interested in fruits and vegetables. After my grandmother’s death, the garden has been neglected; I want to learn more about agriculture so that I may restore it.

Iviwe: I want to prevent poaching because it is wrong for our people to kill these animals because they are essential to us. These animals are a part of our environment and culture. When an animal like a rhino is murdered, for instance, it makes me very sad since they were there before humans and are meant to be there when we are gone. In order for future generations to see them, we must maintain them.

What is your advice to young people who think agriculture is not for young people?

Kungawo: I recommend that you conduct research because you will undoubtedly discover that agriculture has the power to transform the world and improve how things are done.

Esona: I suggest that young people get involved in agriculture so they may learn more about the food they eat and its origins. Agriculture is not just for the old; it is also for young people. If you do not wish to wear gumboots, there are fields that do not require wearing gumboots. Only a small number of young people work in agriculture, and we need more.

Alulutho: Agriculture is not just for older people. It gives young people possibilities and takes us to places we never imagined we would go, like abroad. Agriculture is evolving continually, so young people must get involved.

Sazi: Agriculture is where the money is. You may practice agriculture in your office; it is not only about getting dirty.

Amahle: We survive on agriculture. Agricultural science is a cycle since it affects us daily, benefits us, and provides the food we eat. Young people should consider agriculture because of this.

Lindokuhle: We cannot inherit old-fashioned thinking because things have changed, and we now live in the modern world. What use does it make to claim that agriculture is useless when it is essential to growing our economy? Even though we have goods in our country, we buy them at a high cost from overseas. Let us educate ourselves so we can better understand the world around us; we must be the change we wish to see. Working at an office is also part of agriculture, which is not just field work.

Mhlenkosi: It has been demonstrated throughout history that we cannot do anything without getting our hands dirty. If we say we do not want to participate in agriculture because it will make us dirty, who will? We are the future. Be the change.

Sinesipho: I want the young people to not be ashamed of farming and to not believe they will wear gumboots. We eat because of agriculture, so it is very important. The youth should have a different perspective on agriculture because it benefits us and offers a variety of opportunities.

Iviwe: Agriculture is highly essential because it produces the food we eat and the clothes we wear. It is not just about getting dirty; working for your food can be productive as well. Our economy relies on the agricultural sector.

The high school students who participated in this were: Kungawo Luse from Healdtown Comprehensive High School, Esona Ningi and Alulutho Ngcibi from Dalubuhle High School, Sazi Litha Doyle and Amahle Mbontsi from Hector Petersen High School, Lindokuhle Myoyo and Mhlenkoli Hans from Phandulwazi Agricultural High School and Sinesipho Mariko and Iviwe Nxawe from Eyabantu High School.