Press release: 16 June 2023
In partnership with Tiger Brands, Food & Trees for Africa’s (FTFA’s) EduPlant programme involves South Africa’s youth in agriculture, often for the first time. This opens up a landscape of possibilities for primary and high school learners, sowing the seeds early for career pathing in the agricultural sector.
EduPlant’s tree planting events and school gardens introduce learners to agroecology from a young age. “Our EduPlant schools are experiencing the rewards of fresh produce. The diverse agroecology concepts facilitated during the workshops are resulting in learners understanding the connection between nature and their food supply,” explains EduPlant programme manager Bharathi Tugh.
EduPlant teaches foundational concepts to get learners interested in and excited about agroecology and various related sectors. “EduPlant helps us to learn about agriculture and makes it enjoyable… Agriculture is very important because without it there would be no food. It is the source of the world’s food supply,” says Naledi Moleoa (Grade 4) from Mmulakgoro Primary School in Botshabelo, Free State.
There is a wealth of possible career paths that relate to climate change and food security – two of the most important priorities now and for future generations.
The EduPlant programme focuses on practicing Agroecology principles using permaculture to promote food security. “Permaculture means using natural resources in a balanced way, with no harmful chemicals or poisons,” says Jayden Chetty (Grade 9) from Amanzimtoti Primary in KwaZulu-Natal.
When it comes to climate change, learners who study to become atmospheric scientists, meteorologists, or air pollution analysts can be future leaders in finding bold and innovative solutions to the climate crisis. Upcycling, recycling, and repurposing are all encouraged. These sectors provide increasing opportunities for chemical engineers, waste management practitioners, and more.
Learners discover how indigenous forests and tree plantations contribute to functioning ecosystems, as well as livelihoods through the provision of wood and by-products. EduPlant introduces them to possible careers like forest science and treefelling.
Learners are also taught about water management. South Africa is a water-scarce country; we will need professionals like water resource managers, aquatic biologists, water treatment plant operators, and plumbers to ensure access to clean drinking water and effective agricultural water use.
The EduPlant programme takes great pride in helping South Africa’s youth to understand and take ownership of their essential role in conserving the country’s natural resources and supporting sustainable development. “The EduPlant programme inspired me to do more for the environment. I have learnt new methods of gardening. Due to the EduPlant programme, I have decided to create a vegetable garden of my own and possibly some fruiting plants too,” says Amanzimtoti Primary’s Shivana Naidoo (Grade 7).
If the youth embark on careers in the field, they could contribute to new ways of sustainably producing diverse and nutritious food for all, promoting environmental health and well-being, and developing sustainable communities.
“We applaud the learners who are fostering a greater respect for the environment whilst making an impact on food availability in their communities,” says Tugh. “They represent a ray of hope for ensuring ongoing food security for communities across South Africa.”
Learners from Saint Martins De Pores School in Port Shepstone, KZN, holding shade, nut, and avo trees.
From left to right: Mpilwenhle Memela, Vuyolwethu Sonjica, Ibenathi Ngquseka and Amukelani Ncama.