Mr Lloyd Domleo and Ms Nokulunga Gasa were part
 of the first contingent of Bachelor of Agriculture

UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science conferred degrees on the first contingent of Bachelor of Agriculture students from the innovative joint degree programme launched in 2010 in collaboration with the Cedara College of Agriculture.

Programme Co-ordinator Dr Steve Worth said the Agricultural Extension and Rural Resource Management (AERRM) programme was designed to build the capacity of extension services through the provision of training and education that was relevant to the urgent issues facing agricultural and rural development in South Africa.

‘The programme offers a powerful combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skills in agricultural extension, rural development, project management, agricultural production, farm engineering and farm economics and management,’ said Worth. ‘It follows a challenging teaching and learning approach as well as a fresh approach to the theory and practice of agricultural extension. It draws on the best of UKZN and of Cedara – both of which are recognised for the quality of their respective courses in extension and agricultural production,’ he said.

The joint UKZN/Cedara BAgric qualification has been adopted by the Council for Higher Education (CHE) and by the Department of Higher Education and Training as the launching agricultural qualification for the new university in Mpumalanga, where it will be initiated in 2014. Owen Sithole College of Agriculture (in Empangeni) and the Cape Institute for Agricultural Training (in Elsenburg) are also exploring the UKZN BAgric qualification as a template for joint degrees with nearby universities.

Proud graduates of the pioneering three-year degree were Nokulunga Gasa, Nohuhle Gumede, Sinesipho Madlala, Thobile Maphumulo, Samukelo Mbambo, Phiwokuhle Mngomezulu, Sanele Ndlovu and Mr Lloyd Domleo. Six of these eight students have gone on to register for the BAgric Honours programme.

Worth said they are excited about the outcome of the first round of the new qualification. ‘Graduates have a more focused qualification – squarely grounded in practical agricultural production and farm business management, in addition to agricultural extension. The third-year curriculum places students in the field in a real-world job setting; this lays a firm foundation for gaining much-needed work experience for post-qualification employment,’ he said.

According to Worth the BAgric is able to take 20 students per year. It is currently running at near full capacity with 19 students in first-year, 18 in second-year and 10 in third-year.’