10 June 2013. Brussels. South African Mission to the European Union. A new initiative was presented called the “graduate model for agriculture”, to enhance graduate studies in agricultural sciences in South Africa. The initiative is jointly developed by the South African Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and the Agricultural Research Council.
The purpose is to build capacity through Masters and PhD students, but with a strong focus on Agri Business. Three academic institutions in South Africa have been identified, based on their already existing expertise in agriculture, their close proximity to critically underdeveloped areas in South Africa and the general community approach of these institutions. These institutions are the Universities of Limpopo, Venda and Fort Hare.
A Centre, for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is proposed, in order to support the above activities and enhance a strong private sector network. The aim of this centre is to integrate private sector activities, research and training in support of innovation and entrepreneurship. This centre will also provide private sector projects.
The main activities of this centre are to:
- Offer undergraduate, graduate and post graduate projects linked to private sector and short courses;
- Provide administrative support to researchers and companies related to their projects (in the areas of promotion, proposal advising and writing, project management and business management); and
- Provide technical infrastructures, such as Laboratory facilities
- Research application and technology transfer to rural communities and farmers in general
- Extension services (linkages between R&D and extension services)
- Resource mobilisation for training of farmers, extension personnel, agribusiness facilitators across the value chain
Through its activities, this centre will contribute:
- To improve students’ knowledge of private sector and to develop an entrepreneurial culture among the students;
- To provide a quality service to private sector with the main objective of linking to academia;
- To enhance SMME operations through capacity building;
- To enrich R&D, teaching and learning activities by providing a better understanding of private sector and farmer needs; and
- To improve the capacity and competency of the University and student throughput.