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Friends of UKZN Agriculture | August 2014
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15th August 2014

To our Alumni and Friends

It's been a good month here at Agric at UKZN, what with our first PMA Career Fair taking place and bringing with it a lot of bursary and internship opportunities for students, as well as a chance to network with companies in the industry and showcase UKZN's talent and capabilities in the field of agriculture.

There is also exciting news, announced yesterday, about UKZN's upcoming change in leadership. UKZN will bid farewell to Professor Malegapuru Makgoba on 31st December 2014 after his ten years at the University, as his term of office ends. Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, currently CEO of the National Research Foundation (NRF) will be taking over as Vice-Chancellor as of February 2015. Van Jaarsveld has a PhD in zoology from the University of Pretoria. His research interests centre around conservation planning and biodiversity. We look forward to welcoming him to UKZN.

Here are a few highlights from the last month.

UKZN's First Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Agri-Food Career Fair Highlights Importance of Careers in Agriculture

CAES Career Fair stand
UKZN's College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science stand
Photo Â© Emil von Maltitz
On Tuesday the 5th of August, the Agric campus in Pietermaritzburg played host to the first Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Foundation Agri-Food Career Fair to be held in KwaZulu-Natal. Friends of UKZN Agriculture liaised with PMA's representatives in South Africa to make sure that the Fair went off well.

The Fair, which is one of three held in South Africa throughout the year, is organised by the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), an international trade association based in the United States of America (USA) which boasts member companies around the world, whom it exists to serve in various ways in the fresh produce industry.

A branch of the PMA, the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent, was founded in 2006 in the USA as a result of the PMA recognising that education and training of young talent in the fresh produce industry was vital. The PMA in South Africa and the PMA Foundation have introduced several projects which aim to address the issue of human capital development in the fresh produce industry. One of these endeavours is the Agri-Food Career Fairs, held at the University of Pretoria, Stellenbosch University and now UKZN.

The Fairs exist to popularise agricultural studies and dispel the myth that agricultural qualifications ensure no more than a career in farming.  The Fairs have contributed to stimulating an interest in “scarce skills” fields of study such as pasture science, agronomy, soil science, horticulture, plant pathology and food science.

Various role-players in the agricultural industry in South Africa have enthusiastically supported the Career Fairs, which come at an important time as tertiary training institutions, agricultural businesses, input supply companies, commercial farms and service providers continue to report how the unavailability of young people is affecting their businesses.

Exhibitors at the Fair included the KZN Poultry Institute/South African Poultry Association, ZZ2, RCL Foods, Starke Ayres Seed, Citrus Academy, SA Sugar Research Institute, the South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers (SAIAE), The SA Subtropical Growers’ Association (Subtrop), Sakata Seed, Rugani (Greenway Farms), Potatoes SA, Tongaat Hulett, SA Agricultural Teachers Association (SAATA), the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Pannar Seed and Lima Rural Development Foundation.

The Fair was a great hit among students, with close to a thousand students and high school learners visiting the marquee on the lawn in front of Rabie Saunders building throughout the day. Exhibitors provided information about the bursaries, internships and careers they offer to give students an idea of what opportunities await them once they have qualified in an agricultural field. Tongaat Hulett hosted 34 learners from Nkosibomvu Secondary in Tongaat, Shakaskraal Secondary in Shakaskraal and Umlulama Secondary in Hopewell. Learners from Masameni High School in Ixopo also had the opportunity to attend, as did scholars from Alexandra High School in Pietermaritzburg.

The Fair also featured a Teachers’ Lunch for high school teachers of Science, Life Science and Life Orientation where they were encouraged by various representatives of the industry to promote careers in agriculture and food production to students. This event treated teachers from Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High, The Wykeham Collegiate, Kharina Secondary School, Masameni High School, Alexandra High School and Raisethorpe Secondary School to lunch, while also encouraging them to become “ambassadors” of agriculture to their students and expose them to the myriad of opportunities for students to excel in agriculture.

The Fair was a great success and the PMA and UKZN look forward to making it an annual event.


More photos of the event can be seen on our Facebook page.

30 Years at UKZN

Professor Mark Laing of the Plant Pathology discipline celebrated being at the University of KwaZulu-Natal for 30 years this past July.

Prof Laing has been in the Plant Pathology Department his entire career and has supervised postgraduate students from Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Congo, Ghana, Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda, India, to South Africa.

As a Plant Breeder, he was instrumental in the establishment of the African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI) in 2001 with funding primarily from the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations. The Centre is responsible for the training of at least 95 African scientists from 14 countries in their PhD's in Plant Breeding. 

CWRR Hosts Winter Field School

CWRR Winter School
The Centre for Water Resources ResearchUKZN and South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) hosted a Winter Field School on Hydrological Processes for Hydrology Honours students (or students in related disciplines) from the 8th to the 11th of July in the Cathedral Peak Catchments.
 
The Winter Field School was attended by 5 Honours students, 2 from UKZN, 1 from the University of Venda and 2 from the University of Zululand, all of whom are currently enrolled in a BSc Hydrology Honours programme or related BSc Honours programme. The field trip, despite the cold and snow was very successful.

The content covered during the four-day course was aimed at improving students’ understanding of hydrological processes through field based measurements and practical experience. The content covered included the history of the Cathedral Peak Catchments and the objectives of re-establishment, the use of the Cosmic Ray Probe to monitor soil moisture, the calibration of the Cosmic Ray Probe using gravimetric and wireless TDR sensors, an introduction to energy balance techniques for actual evaporation measurements (using the LAS MK II and eddy co-variance systems) and finally the design of monitoring networks for Global Change.

The students attending from the University of Venda and the University of Zululand were exposed to snow for the first time during the Winter Field School, making the experience all the more unique for them.

MoU Signed Between UKZN and CFFRC, Malaysia

The School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Science (SAEES) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Crops for the Future Research Centre (CFFRC), situated at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC).

The MoU between the CFFRC and UKZN makes provision for exchange of personnel working on various aspects of underutilised crops, joint research activities, joint supervision of postgraduate students and, in future, joint registrations of students at University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and UKZN supervised by scientists from UKZN, UNMC and CFFRC.

On the 31st of July and 1st of August, Prof Modi and Dr Mabhaudhi hosted Dr Aryo Feldman from CFFRC. The purpose of his research was to establish working relationships as well as logistics for funding future collaborative research on underutilised crops at UKZN. 

Jozini Information Day - Food Security

CWRR Winter School
The African Centre for Food Security at SAEES attended and contributed to the Provitamin A Biofortification Information Day organised by the KZN Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) at Makhathini Research Station. Dr Unathi Kolanisi and Dr Muthulisi Siwela were the keynote speakers presenting on ‘Why Fortification and Biofortification?’ and ‘The role of vitamin A in human health’ respectively. There was a diverse audience  comprised of stakeholders, including KZN DAFF, Dept of Health, Dept of Education, local farmers, UKZN staff and students and DUT staff and studentsThe day's theme was "Agriculture has been successful in meeting the energy needs of the world, but malnutrition, which was a challenge a decade ago, is still a persistent prominent problem. If Agriculture is to be successful in combating food and nutrition insecurity then a paradigm shift has to happen: the quality of food should carry the same value as quantity".
 
The Provitamin A biofortified yellow maize is a research project run from SAEES by a multi-disciplinary team of researchers: Prof John Derera (Plant Breeding), Prof Michael Chimonyo (Animal & Poultry Science), Dr Muthulisi Siwela (Dietetics & Human Nutrition) and Dr Unathi Kolanisi (Food Security). The research project has about 15 diverse postgraduate students and is funded largely by the NRF.

2015 Bursaries & Scholarships


It's the time of year when bursaries and scholarships applications are open. Agriculture and all the qualifications which fall under it are viewed as scarce skills in our country today, meaning that there is support for students looking to develop their skills in this area. Friends of UKZN Agriculture has been advertising a number of bursaries, internships and graduate programmes over the last little while. Most applications close at the end of August and a select few close later, however one or two do close today.
 
 

Vacancy - Turf Management

A turf management company is looking for a graduate or postgraduate candidate with excellent knowledge of plant nutrition and soils management who is interested in a career in Turf grass management/ consulting/ technical sales. Any interested applicants can send their CVs along to info@turfnetwork.co.za.
Thank you for your continued support of Friends of UKZN Agriculture. You can stay updated with us on a more regular basis via our Facebook page and if you would ever like to know anything, pledge your support or schedule an appointment with us, drop us an email.

Kind regards,

Christine Cuénod
Networking Facilitator
cuenod@ukzn.ac.za
033 260 6557

on behalf of

Duncan Stewart
Committee Chairman
duncan@lima.org.za
082 491 1912
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