On March 23, when 10 young people from Hankey and Patensie gathered in the Gamtoos Irrigation Board conference room at the start of a one-year internship in plant management, they were filled with nervous anticipation about this new opportunity.
Four weeks in the classroom formed the theoretical basis for what would come next: practical, hands-on training in groups, overseen by local farmers participating in the Gamtoos Irrigation Baord project.
Five months later, we caught up with three of the students, each of whom now has a clear vision of their future career as farm manager.
Ricardo Steve Jenneker, who was born and bred in Patensie, matriculated from Patensie High School in 2016.
He says, “My biggest dream is to become a successful farm manager. I want to use the knowledge I have gained and to pass it on.
“If I can expand my knowledge in farming, I will be able to decrease the level of unemployment in our village.
“Working closely with people from different races has meant that I have learned new things every day.”
Ricardo says that he has learned much about himself too: “I can manage my time more effectively; I learn fast; I am adaptable; and I am an effective, polite communicator.” The most important thing? “My ambition is to succeed.”
Like Ricardo, Shelmoryka Maarman also hails from Patensie with a dream to be a successful farm manager.
It is her hope, through the GIB learnership, to gain more experience in the agricultural industry.
Naturally quite shy, she says: “I have learned to overcome my shyness and to share my opinions as I communicate with others in the group who may have different ideas from mine.”
She enjoys being on the farm and learning, in practice, what they were taught in the classroom. “I enjoy learning. This course has taught me that bad things sometimes happen, but that I need to make the best of them.
“After the course, I want to find a permanent job to support my family. I want to give back to the people of Ramaphosa Village and to encourage the youth to get involved in farming.”
Hankey resident Ronique Williams says, “My biggest dream is to be a junior farm manager.”
Living in a rural area, she feels that there are ample opportunities for work in this sector. “That’s what inspired me to learn more about farming.”
Besides learning about planting and measuring trees, Ronique has grown personally.
“I have overcome my fears and self-doubt. I have established what my strengths and weaknesses are while learning about my core values and personality type.
“By the end of the year I hope to have developed into a good leader and to find a permanent job in farming.”