UFH Student Agricultural Skills Development Club
The UFH Student Agricultural skills development Club was initiated by students from the University of Fort Hare in October 2016. The club seeks to improve the practical skills of undergraduate students with the aim of producing an all rounded graduate. Presently there are more than 50 students participating in practical leaning activities organized trough the club.ARDRI met with the founding members of the club Mr Yanga Diniso, Mr Ntshanga Mbuyisi and Miss Ntokozo Msiza to find out more about the vision, challenges and highlights of their journey since starting the club
What inspired you to start the club?
The club started after we participated in the practical vocational training which is an opportunity to merge the theory we have been learning with the practical skills that were to learn. However, by the end of the training we not satisfied by the amount of practical work that we were exposed to. We felt that given more time and more work to do we would be better equipped with the agricultural skills that we need. We wanted to gain more practical experience beyond what we had been offered and that is how the club started.
How does the club function?
Our weekly schedule is designed to accommodate other academic activities for our members. Practical’s start on Tuesdays up to Sundays. Currently our members have practicals at the University of Fort Hares Dairy Farm, the Agri-Park and the Lindokuhle Project situated outside the University of Fort Hare. We also decided to have a mentoring and evaluation committee from different disciplines within the Faculty of Science and Agriculture whose members are Mr T Mthoko, Prof B Bester, Miss M Maphaha, Prof S Beyene, Mr Z Mpisana, Dr I Jaja, Prof M Aliber and Dr G Nebo to assist us as the work progresses.
What challenges did you encounter when you were starting the club?
Convincing our peers about the necessity of the club was not an easy task they did not believe in the club probably because they did not understand its vision. Secondly, because the club is still new it has been a deterring challenge convincing the Student representative Council SRC to recognize the club as a student society.
When you approached places where you do your practical’s, how was the reception from them?
They were so welcoming and they loved the idea of working with students. The only request they had was “please make sure that you bring people that want to be here, people that are willing to work hard” and our members have not been disappointing in that regard.
What has been the highlight of establishing the club?
Learning practical skills has been a wonderful learning experience. Being part of the club has also taught us to be responsible and accountable to each other.
We would love to see the club became a part of the curriculum of the University of Fort Hare because the vision of the club is to have graduates who when they leave Fort Hare are well rounded in their fields of expertise. We would also love to expand the club by collaborating with other institutions of higher learning the offer agriculture in the Eastern Cape.