Shaping and transforming the future of agriculture and agricultural education

| A node for African thought

Shaping and transforming the future of agriculture and agricultural education

Shaping and transforming the future of agriculture and agricultural education

In a captivating two-day event hosted at Canefields Country House in Empangeni, the French South Africa Institute (F’S Agri), in collaboration with the University of Zululand (UNIZULU), orchestrated an internationalisation workshop that served as a critical juncture for advancing and transforming agriculture and agricultural curriculum. The programme unfolded on the 30th of November and the 1st of December 2023, delving into the imperative of shaping, and transforming the future of agriculture and agricultural education in terms of tackling employability, matching training to the job market, running and managing an agricultural business and agri-prenuership. The two-day event was directed by delightful Prof Unathi Kolanisi (UNIZULU) and Dr Severine Jaloustre (F’S Agri).

In attendance were colleagues from the UNIZULU Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering (FSAE) and Faculty of Commerce, Administration and Law (FCAL), F’S Agri, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), invited delegates from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (KZNDARD), the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food, agricultural colleges that include Owen Sitole College of Agriculture (OSCA) and CEDARA, invited farmers, postgraduate students and student interns. The event commenced with an enthusiastic welcome speech by UNIZULU’s Prof Irrshad Kaseeram, setting the tone for two days of rich discourse. The morning session saw presentations from key figures in the government, including Mr Francois Davel from DSI and Prof Norman Maiwashe from F’SAGRI and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). Mr William Gex and Prof Melusi Sibanda’s presentations laid the groundwork for the two-day discussion between the French and South African agricultural systems, respectively.

The first day’s afternoon session unfolded with workshops delving into identifying different jobs and corresponding training, bridging the gap between job descriptions and curricula. The day culminated with a panel discussion on emerging trends, sparking further contemplation on the future of agricultural education.

The second day revolved around the theme of territorialization and pedagogy. Sessions began with discussions on territorial anchorage, exploring the ecosystem of the French agricultural colleges and farms. The focus then shifted to training pathways, engineering reference frameworks, and integrating professional situations in training. The afternoon session of day two saw presentations from OSCA and CEDARA, offering insights into the curricula and courses they provide. Working groups were formed to identify best practices, paving the way for comprehensive reports on pedagogy and training content. Day two concluded with a forward-looking discussion on the way forward. Prof Melusi Sibanda delivered the closing remarks on behalf of UNIZULU, expressing gratitude for the meaningful exchanges throughout the event.

The two-day internationalization workshop collectively emerged as a pivotal platform, yielding numerous key takeaways. Firstly, the workshop provided a global perspective, fostering an understanding of international best practices in agricultural education. It facilitated knowledge exchange and collaboration among experts and participants, allowing them to gain insights into diverse agricultural systems, methodologies, and training approaches. The event also encouraged networking opportunities, connecting professionals, academics, and policymakers, thereby fostering a community dedicated to advancing agriculture and agricultural education. Moreover, the workshop emphasized the importance of aligning curricula with industry needs, ensuring that educational programmes are relevant, dynamic, and responsive to emerging trends. The internationalization workshop played a crucial role in promoting a holistic and internationally informed approach to designing short courses and curricula, contributing to enhancing agricultural education on a global scale while emphasizing contextualising issues. This event also underscored the UNIZULU’s commitment to fostering intellectual exchange, collaboration, and innovative thinking in fields crucial to Africa’s sustainable development as “A Node for African Thought”, serving as a beacon, and guiding the trajectory of education on the continent.

  • Prof Melusi Sibanda