Commemorations bring with them recollections. The centenary dinner of the Faculty of Agrisciences at Spier took our memories back to afternoon practicals at Welgevallen or far out of town with a small pick at a soil profile, or to an Agricultural Economics class full of uncertainty about how Prof Kassier was going to challenge us this time …
All the things that made agricultural studies so different and exciting are still there, but fortunately the incentive is greater to do appropriate research, and the faculty can now take its place in the greater world of agriculture.
Between courses of wonderful food and conversation, messages were conveyed from different parts of the world. Dr Emiliano Raffrenato, lecturer in the Department of Animal Sciences, told how the “romantic lifestyle” of Stellenbosch chose him. He chose Stellenbosch because it gave him access to the rest of Africa. He believes that Stellenbosch University has a responsibility and duty to improve the continent.
This year is also the 25th anniversary of cooperation between Stellenbosch University and other international universities. Stellenbosch needs to cherish this, because international students bring with them new ideas.
The message of Prof Kennedy Dzama, deputy dean responsible for research, innovation and postgraduate studies, from other universities in Africa was that the Faculty of Agrisciences should join with its peers at universities in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Ibadan and Lagos to unlock the great potential of the continent. “We can form a formidable partnership.”
Mr Nicolas Dicey, chairperson of Hortgro, encouraged the Faculty on behalf of the industry to embrace technology in order to provide in the needs of a growing number of consumers in a world of decreasing resources and climate change. He confirmed the industry’s dedication to its partnership with the Faculty.
Prof Eugene Cloete, vice-rector: research, innovation and postgraduate students, acknowledged the contribution of previous deans of the Faculty of Agrisciences and said the Faculty was now beginning a new future. His vision for the Faculty and the country is that South Africans should work together to ensure prosperity for all by reducing unemployment, inequality and poverty. This can only be achieved if agricultural resources are protected.
Once everyone had finished talking and the mutton ribs and vegetables were finished, Coenie de Villiers sang about the smell of cat thorn and kambroo (katbos en kambro) when it rains in the Little Karoo, and about flowers when Namaqualand celebrates its new year – in a nutshell, any farmer’s dream of rain on time on lush fields.
May this be a prediction of the next one hundred years of Agrisciences.