The NWU explores collaboration for engineering in agriculture

The Enterprise African Regional Network (EARN) will continue to be a major factor in luring young people into the agricultural sector as it provides African entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills needed in the food-producing industries. On Monday, 5 February 2024, African Greeneurs from EARN conducted a visit to the Faculty of Engineering at the North-West University (NWU) to explore further collaboration on engineering research in agriculture.

The NWU’s School of Industrial Engineering organised the visit and dignitaries from African Greeneurs were welcomed by Prof Rojanette Coetzee, associate professor and director of the Unit for Energy and Technology, and the manager of the postgraduate programme. Prof Henri Marais, who is the acting director of the School of Industrial Engineering, was also present during the visit.

Two fourth-year Industrial Engineering students are currently doing their final-year projects at African Greeneurs. Sonique Nagel’s project focuses on developing the food-processing plant for EARN, while Mea Thiebaut is working on the worm-farm project. According to Sonique, the food-processing plant aims to produce various nutritious, affordable and accessible herb-based food products, and it leverages the health benefits of herbs such as moringa, lemon verbena and mint. Mea believes that the implementation of worm farming will not only increase production capacity, but it will also reduce organic waste, thereby enhancing the quality of the greenhouse farming at African Greeneurs. She further illustrates that addressing pressing issues such as global warming, waste management and food security is an inherent responsibility of engineers.

Sonique says working at African Greeneurs is an enriching experience, as she can close the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. “The organisation fosters a secure and positive work environment, and my exposure includes interactions with local and international individuals and companies through collaborative efforts.” Mea adds: “I was warmly welcomed into the community, and I am quickly becoming part of the family. The team is incredibly friendly, and I am always keen on lending a helping hand.”

The collaboration between the two parties will benefit the NWU Industrial Engineering researchers by giving them an opportunity to build networks in the real world.

More about EARN

EARN has developed ways to make agriculture exciting by ensuring that young people are placed in positions to promote gender equality while driving transformation in agriculture.

They have a farm of 8,5 hectares in Centurion, where they grow fresh produce in tunnels and a shade netting house, and this is where EARN ensures the training and development of young agripreneurs.

Another 100 hectares are located in Ekurhuleni, where cut flowers, mainly chrysanthemums and some lisianthus, are grown. In addition, EARN has fully equipped multi-span greenhouses covering six hectares under cultivation, and a packhouse.


The representatives of NWU and African Greeneurs hoping for a future of cooperation.

Submitted on Fri, 02/16/2024 - 09:06