The lives of 30 co-operatives changed for the better when a joint partnership between agricultural and agri-processing company, Tongaat Hulett and the South African Research Institute (SASRI) granted them a fully paid three-week training course in sugarcane planting.
The co-operative members were sponsored tuition fees, accommodation and meals by Tongaat Hulett worth over R250 000.
Successful co-operatives who have passed will receive a Junior Certificate in Sugarcane Agriculture from SASRI.
Nkonzo Mhlongo, Tongaat Hulett Socio-Economic Development Manager, said the company regards the sustainability of the cooperatives as very important. The support of the 30 cooperative members will ensure that the sugarcane projects have individuals with sound understanding of sugarcane agriculture.
“The initiative seeks individuals who have exposure to sugarcane agriculture and have a desire to pursue a career in the agricultural sector,” she said.
The training course offer members of various co-operatives the opportunity to gain valuable industry experience on the type of soils and fertilisers needed for the different methods of planting, knowledge on harvesting and irrigation and or any other environmental management aspect of operating a farm or a piece of land.
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Silindile Bethwana, a worker at Simamisa Trading, said, “The course was a fulfilling experience. I have gained further knowledge on sugarcane harvesting; the different types of sugarcane and the various fertilisers used to improve the quality of my harvest.
“With the knowledge gained from this course, I will ensure that all rules and regulations for sugarcane husbandry are followed. I am thankful to Tongaat Hulett for having given me the opportunity to be a part of this sponsored course which will lead to a successful farming career,” added Bethwana.
Sibusiso Mfekayi said, “I grabbed the opportunity with open arms when selected by Tongaat Hulett to be a part of a once-in-a-lifetime sponsored training course.”
“The highlight of the course was learning about preparation for the harvesting process and the readiness of the soil. I am grateful to Tongaat Hulett for this opportunity,” added Mfekayi.
Peacemaker Cele said, “I applied for the training course in sugarcane agriculture as I wanted to diversify my skills to work at a sugarcane farm.”
“The course has given me great exposure to sugarcane farming and I am confident that pursuing this career path will yield great results. I would like to thank Tongaat Hulett for the sponsorship,” added Cele.