South Africa is dipping its toes into a recession, and the continued decline of parastatals such as Eskom and Transnet is escalating the country’s economic woes. One of the many sectors that are facing suffocating constraints is also one of the most important ones: agriculture.
The North-West University (NWU), through various initiatives such as a recently signed memorandum of understanding between the university and the North West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (representing the Potchefstroom College of Agriculture and the Taung Agricultural College) that is aimed at offering a framework for cooperation, is committed to finding solutions to the problems that our agricultural sector faces.
“A healthy, thriving agricultural sector is of paramount importance to the current and future prosperity of the country,” says Prof Bismark Tyobeka, principal and vice-chancellor of the NWU.
“Food security, or rather food insecurity, is a global problem. The NWU’s Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences has nationally and internationally rated researchers who are working with stakeholders across the country to help grow the agricultural and agro-processing sectors to optimise opportunities for food production, storage and distribution.”
To add to the escalating dilemma, the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) has reported that South Africa is facing a dire shortage of veterinary professionals, partly because there are limited institutions that offer full training for veterinarians.
Tyobeka explains that: “According to the South African Veterinary Council, the number of registered veterinarians in South Africa dropped from 3 718 in 2020 to 3 483 in 2021. This is reportedly the reason we are relying on veterinarians from neighbouring countries. Of course, this situation is a threat to our food security and production. This is an opportunity for us to explore the growth of our animal health programmes and to establish a School of Veterinary Sciences that can cover the North West, Northern Cape, Free State and parts of Gauteng.”
Tyobeka foresees that the university’s partnerships with the agricultural sector will continue to go from strength to strength: “On my own behalf and on the behalf of the NWU I would like to thank the agricultural sector for delivering what can only be described as an indispensable service to the country. Your toil and sweat, your dedication and expertise are the lifeblood of our country. You will always be able to count on our support.”