'Agricultural extension will never be the same again,' says MEC Tshwene
15 Feb 2011
Thirty more agricultural extension and advisory service officers employed by the North West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will for the next two years study towards a B-Tech Degree, specialising in agricultural extension service, crop and livestock production at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT).
This development is in reaction to the re-skilling and orientation of extension pillar, as outlined in the much lauded Extension Recovery Plan (ERP). This plan was initiated in 2005 by the Department of Agriculture in its attempt to revamp agricultural extension and promote its professionalism.
This group is the second to benefit from the objectives of the Extension Recovery Plan initiative since the first group of thirty nine (39) officers is currently studying second year courses for Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with the North West University (Mafikeng campus).
This drive is also guided by the norms and standards of the extension and advisory service profession, which seeks to ensure that all practicing agricultural advisor upgrade their academic qualifications from their currently obtained Higher Certificates and Diplomas to Bachelor’s Degrees and B-Tech before 2013.
“This initiative has breathed a new life into extension, and our view is that this opportunity is a gateway to quality service delivery to our farming community,” expressed MEC Boitumelo Tshwene.
MEC Tshwene acknowledged that this skills upgrading programme will enable agricultural advisors to proficiency execute their duties and enhance their capacity to face challenges affecting the farming community, and most importantly, subsistence farmers.
It is expected that these agricultural advisors will be exposed to appropriate farming knowledge offered by these institutions of higher learning, which will eventually improve their service performance. Their studies will be on a block based approach.
Some of the pillars which must be addressed by the ERP are to ensure accountability and visibility of extension, to improve their image, provision of information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, as well as to recruit more extension personnel.
The department has in prior years, ensured that its extension officers are provided with cellular phones, laptops and protective clothing to enable them to be up to speed with the current advancement in so far as agricultural practices and technology is concerned. Recently, about twenty three state pool vehicles (bakkies) were purchased as part of the department’s effort to ensure uninterrupted interaction with farmers on a regular basis.
Enquiries: Source: North West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Tel: 018 389 5719
Cell: 082 901 2435
Issued by: North West Agriculture, Conservation,Environment and Rural Development
15 Feb 2011
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