Financial injection towards citrus industry

Financial injection towards citrus industry

1 July 2013

The citrus sector is one of the most important agricultural sectors from a job creation and economic potential point of view, according to the National Development Plan (NDP). But there is a critical skills shortage in the sector, a gap the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) is helping to plug through its support of the Citrus Academy.

The IDC is adding to education efforts in the citrus industry, and has offered R300 000 for educational programmes run by the Citrus Academy.

The academy, in Morningside in Durban, is a section 21 company that was established by the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa for skills development in the citrus industry in southern Africa. It addresses five main challenges: skills shortages on citrus farms and in citrus packhouses; employment equity; scarce and critical skills; the quality of skills development delivery by training providers; and transformation in the sector.

Head of IDC’s Agro-Processing Industries, Rian Coetzee, says developing the skills of black youth in agriculture is one of the critical focus areas for the IDC, saying the Citrus Academy is a primary vehicle for meeting this goal.

He says: “Our funds have been earmarked for an Industry Exposure programme that allows Citrus Academy bursary students to attend industry workshops, conferences, symposia, study tours and the like in South Africa and abroad. The second component consists of a Ready-Steady-Work programme through which bursary students become work-ready.”

The Citrus Academy’s two main activities are managing one of the largest bursary funds in primary agriculture, and creating learning tools related to pre- and post-harvest citrus production.

In welcoming the donation, Jacomien de Klerk, the academy’s general manager, said: “This contribution will enable the academy to help many young people launch successful careers in the citrus industry. It is an investment into their futures, and into that of the citrus industry and our great country.”

De Klerk explains: “The Citrus Academy Bursary Fund has always strived to do more than provide students with bursaries. We believe that the goal is not to assist a student in obtaining a qualification, but rather to assist a young person in preparing for and settling into a long, happy and prosperous career in the citrus industry. To this end we are undertaking two student development initiatives this year, namely industry exposure and workplace induction.”

In 2013, 34 students will benefit from the Industry Exposure programme.

The second programme, Ready-Steady-Work, is critical in helping young people get a steady foothold on their careers. In 2011 and 2012, academy bursary students participated in a research study conducted by a Masters student at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. The study focused on the adjustment and integration of young people to the workplace and how beneficial coaching could help.

“The findings of the study bore out our past experience that young people, when first entering the workplace, experience various adjustment problems, mostly related to understanding what is expected of them and what they can fairly expect, understanding themselves, and managing the manner in which they can function within a given workplace,” says de Klerk.

In light of this, the academy is planning a five-day camp at the end of September to which 26 bursary students are invited. These young people either started working at the beginning of 2013 or will start working at the start of 2014. The camp programme will focus on coaching, team building and peer learning, combining classroom learning and physical activities to develop their understanding, self-confidence and self-knowledge. Funds from the IDC will go towards this programme.p>

For more information contact:
Mandla Mpangase
Public Relations Manager – IDC
Tel:  (011) 269 3282
Cell: 082 880 6074