African Renaissance Festival 15-16 August 2019



News Feeds


African Renaissance News

Back to overview


Judy Stuart - Shaping The Future Of Farming

The Future Farmers Foundation is a recognised role-player in shaping the future of farming. The brainchild
of Judy Stuart, previously a Howick dairy farmer, the unique social programme aims to cultivate the skills and ignite a passion for farming in young aspiring farmers. The programme is designed to give young people, who may start the programme between the ages of 18 and 26 years, the opportunity to 'learn as they earn' by providing them with real job experiences in an agricultural field of their choice.

They are placed in apprentice positions on local and then later international farms, returning home to South Africa with their expertise.

Today, with many successful placements of eager young South African farmers on farms in Australia and America, Future Farmers has become a recognised role-player in the future of KZN farming.

Stuart says that she now has young farmers in large commercial operations around South Africa in hugely responsible farming roles such a running over a thousand dairy cows. "I can't tell you how proud I am of these young farmers," she says. "We started working with unemployed school leavers and some of our top farm managers are these young people who have not had access to tertiary education. This has changed to a large extent, due to the fact that most of our funding has been exclusively for unemployed graduates."

Stuart commented that the Future Farmers Foundation only provides opportunities and mentorship and that it is up to each young farmer to make the most of the programme. "The Future Farmers Foundation is preparing them to become successful farmers and this is part of the process of learning to take responsibility for themselves and ultimately, others as well."

The Future Farmers programme is unique in that as the interns are paid good salaries while they are working overseas, they are required to pay back the cost of sending them there. This money is then used to send another intern who, in turn, pays it back. A single donation could potentially send two interns overseas every year.

The initiative has the backing of Kwanalu, who works tirelessly to secure funding for the Future Farmers programme. The objective of bringing a skilled, motivated and dedicated 'agricultural generation' to life, has gained some support from AgriSETA, agri-businesses, sponsors and the agricultural industry at large.

"We have over 1 000 young people on our database but not the resources to assist as many as we would like to," says Stuart.

Bayer is currently the programmes' core funder and supports the Future Farmers Programme through funds sourced from the company's head office in Germany. This funding pays the staff salaries and the rent, which is critical to the programme's daily functioning.

Stuart commented, "AgriSETA has been our biggest funder so far and has provided funding for 200 unemployed graduates for one year. Another project has been approved but has not yet started. We have also just started a project with Department of Agriculture KZN for 50 unemployed graduates for two years."

Kwanalu's CEO, Sandy La Marque said Kwanalu was proud to be a part of the Future Farmers Programme and commended the union's members for their mentorship roles in the programme.

"Empowering the future farmers of tomorrow is our goal, and as a union, it is imperative that we are at the forefront of initiatives that promote and create new opportunities in our sector. This past year we have facilitated the 'employment' of 200 unemployed graduates and placed them on farms where these young people have, in most cases, excelled and are in management positions.

The Future Farmers Foundation enables transformation of our youth by empowering them to take responsibility for a sustainable and viable future," she said. "The next step is looking to, and encouraging, government to recognise these incredible, skilled, young commercial future farmers being grown in our province. It is these young farmers who could potentially play a role in a change around strategy on many of the failing farms, to bring about transformation, economic growth and directly impact on food security on a commercial scale," said La Marque.

"I would like to thank and acknowledge AgriSETA and Future Farmers who have made our dreams of becoming farmers come true. I would also like to thank commercial farmers, here in SA and abroad, who have supported and mentored us interns," said Sanelisiwe Ngubane, a Future Farmer graduate.

Email should you be interestedin providing an opportunity or mentorship for a learner.

Tel: 033 330 4322

 Shaping The Future Of Farming.JPG

Back to overview