March 15, 2024

Western Cape Unveils Intern Program to Empower Young Agricultural Entrepreneurs

On Tuesday, 11 March 2024, the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, and the Head of Department, Dr  Mogale Sebopetsa, welcomed 120 unemployed agricultural graduates as interns to the Department’s Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP). During the two-year internship graduates will be placed with farmers and sector stakeholders who will act as mentors and host employers.

The agricultural graduate intern programme will offer youth experience through work-integrated learning and support the establishment of youth-owned or managed enterprises, youth entrepreneurs, and other activities. This will encourage the active participation of youth in the agricultural sector to bridge the gap of ageing producers and reduce unemployment and poverty.

Minister Meyer said, “This programme places unemployed graduates with agriculture-related qualifications on farms and at enterprises within the agricultural value chain to acquire relevant on-the-job entrepreneurial and business skills to enable them to establish and manage their own enterprises.”

Minister Meyer and Dr Mogale urged the graduate interns to embrace the values of the Western Cape Government –  care, competence, accountability, integrity, innovation, and responsiveness.

Dr Sebopetsa commented, “You have joined an important sector of our economy. The Western Cape agriculture sector is responsible for 55% of South Africa’s primary agricultural exports.  It is also the country’s most important contributor to food security. As the next cohort of producers and entrepreneurs in the sector, we hope to expose you to the values and the practices that you need to be successful.”

Minister Meyer highlighted that the agricultural graduate intern programme allowed participants to unlock their potential within a thriving sector of the economy.

“Unleash your capability within this flourishing sector. Agriculture and agri-processing contribute 11% to the GDP of the  Western Cape. By the end of 2022, statistics highlighted that the agriculture sector employed 227 893 workers in the Western Cape, and the agri-processing sector employed  236 002 workers.  Combined, the sector contributed 426,417 jobs in the Western Cape.  This means that the agriculture sector employed 17% of the total number of people employed in the Western Cape.”

The key placement components of the agricultural graduate intern programme are:

  • Livestock rearing and poultry production;
  • Horticulture/crop production;
  • Aquaculture production;
  • Viticulture;
  • Agro-processing;
  • Agricultural Extension; and
  • Agricultural Economics

Minister Meyer said: “Education, Training and Research, and Farmer Support are two of my ministerial priorities. These are underpinned by the Western Cape Government’s Growth for Jobs Strategy. Agriculture is a key sector of the Jobs for Growth Strategy.”

“Ultimately, we want to improve the employability of agricultural graduates through on-the-job experience at major agricultural host farms and entrepreneurial entities while at the same time, offering our producers additional support. Importantly, this programme is working to reduce unemployment and equipping our youth to become employers themselves,” concluded the Minister.