Stellenbosch University’s Standard Bank Centre for Agribusiness Leadership and Mentorship Development has formed a partnership with The African Fellowship Trust(AFT) and the Royal Agricultural College (RAC) in the UK to strengthen the AFT’s African Leadership Programme.
The partnership was officially launched at the South African High Commission in London on June 30.
The AFT Programme offers fellowships to graduates in eastern and southern Africa’s agriculture, food and natural resources sectors to help equip them to become tomorrow’s leaders and innovators in the development of agriculture. Since the start of the programme 45 fellowships have been awarded, some from South Africa.
The African Fellowship Trust (AFT), an independent Trust set up to provide strategic oversight to the programme, has been working with the Royal Agricultural College (RAC) for the past five years to identify and provide educational opportunities in the UK for outstanding students from Africa.
So far Fellows have spent a year at the Royal Agricultural College (RAC) and in addition to the academic work, the programme includes networking and short-term placements to industry, designed to meet the students’ individual needs.
From 2011-2012 the Standard Bank Centre for Agibusiness Leadership & Mentorship Development will join AFT and RAC as the third partner. The Centre, which is deeply involved in the southern African Agribusiness and commercial small-farmer sector, will play a key role in strengthening the Fellowship programme, by taking over from RAC the management of the industrial placements which will be located with agribusinesses in southern Africa.
The Centre will put the Fellows through a short orientation course in southern African agricultural developments and then arrange 4-week placements for them in the agribusiness sector and will also provide the Fellows with mentoring support.
A concluding session at Stellenbosch will mark the end of the programme and the Fellows will then return to employment. They will then be expected to implement a small development project planned while at RAC and the Centre.
The Standard Bank Centre for Agribusiness Leadership and Mentorship Development, the first of its kind in Africa, was launched in 2010 in response to the high failure rate of land reform projects and emerging commercial farmers and is designed to address current challenges in the agricultural sector. The Centre aims to link emerging farmers with the commercial agri-food value chain and promote economic development and growth. It’s also one of Stellenbosch University’s HOPE Project initiatives. Through its HOPE Project the University strives to be of service to society by applying its expertise and the power of science to tackle serious problems in South Africa and on the continent.
“It is a great honour and opportunity for the Centre to associate with these two world renowned organisations. The partnership provides an exciting opportunity to expand the activities of the Centre into African agribusiness leadership development networks. The programme also provides the base for a number of interesting business development research and training case studies to be conducted in collaboration with the AFT and the RAC,” said Prof Johan van Rooyen, Director of the Centre.
On 21 July, the South African High Commissioner in the UK, Dr Zola Skweyiya, will visit the Centre.