The AFMA Student Outreach Programme

What do you call a gathering of local and international Animal Science delegates at Sun City in September?

The AFMA Forum!

AFMA partnered with Agrijob to host -a Student Outreach Programme where several top students from South Africa’s leading universities were invited to the AFMA Forum and to participate in the Student Outreach Programme.

Among these students was the AFMA Overall Intervarsity Writer’s Cup Winner, Michelle Gouws, who is also a PhD candidate at Stellenbosch University.

Something that stood out for Michelle was “connecting with other students and companies – it creates a great baseline for us as students, especially for our future: with the industry putting a face to your name makes future collaboration/ job seeking much easier.”

    Michelle Gouws with Zenani Shozi from Evonik

    This is exactly what we aim to achieve at Agrijob.

    The youth unemployment rate stands at a whopping 60,70% (Trading Economics, 2023). It is a common fact that South Africa’s unemployment rate is the highest in the world.

    Our motto is “Grow your own timber”. We aim to create employment opportunities for graduates, postgraduates, and more experienced candidates (all the way up to senior managerial level). Recruitment in Agriculture is complicated by the lack of qualified and experienced candidates with specialised skills. Contradictory to this, many agricultural graduates are struggling to find employment or an opportunity to an internship.  Our job portal serves to bridge the gaps. We also organise the AgriCAREERConnect (ACC) programmes where we aim to expose students and graduates to companies in the different agricultural sectors.

      The AFMA Student Outreach Programme was three days long and consisted of a student welcome and briefing, a student lunch gathering on careers with MC Alex Jenkins and a coffee session during which interview tips were shared. We also held a Treasure Hunt at the Exhibition and students were encouraged to network as much as they possibly could.

      Perhaps the best feedback on the student lunch gathering on careers can be summarised by the words of Karabo Sekano from North-West University: “I learned that we all start somewhere. Moreover, even though there are different sectors in the industry, they all have the same purpose which is to ensure high standard animal welfare and production, as well as ensuring food security globally.”

        Siyabonga Kunene, from North-West University, loved networking, and enjoyed meeting the representatives of various companies that are in the industry. Siyabonga said: “Where they have given us the chance to share where we are heading and what we are interested in. Then criticize positively to ensure we don’t get caught up where we won’t be able to progress.”

        Hanél Mans, MSc. Student at UFS, profoundly stated:”[Your] network is your net worth…”

        When asked what lessons they would take back into their careers, Jonathan De Waal from the University of Pretoria, said the following: “To always be yourself…” He also said that he learnt so much from the conference. Johannes Dreyer said that amongst other things, he will take back the ability to make a good first impression. Suffice to say, everyone involved learnt a lot.

        I learnt about the link between inflammation and butyric acid (that even exists in humans! It influences their gut health, and many other health conditions).

        One student was privileged enough to be invited for an interview after networking with a company.

        The students’ feedback is our motivation for future events.

        In my opinion, Kabelo Mathabela’s words summarise our aim and what the students learnt perfectly, namely: “To be confident and determined in every aspect of my [their] career journey and … being bold enough (not to be scared) to share my [their] knowledge with the fellow students and the relevant stakeholders in my [their] career path.”

        We thank AFMA and all the sponsors who made this event possible.


        Trading Economics. 2023. South Africa Youth Unemployment Rate.

        Compiled by:  Tanja Werle