Launch of a Triple Helix Platform in Limpopo, Free State and Mpumalanga Provinces


In September 2019, the project “Strengthening Skills of TVET Staff and Students for Optimizing Water Usage and Climate Smart Agriculture in South Africa” was launched by Maastricht School of Management (MSM) and Stellenbosch University (SU). The project is funded by NUFFIC, through the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On Tuesday 23rd February 2021, the first inaugural meeting of the triple helix platform between MSM and SU took place. The first Triple Helix (3H) Platform was launched in the provinces of Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Directed by Prof Leopoldt van Huyssteen, director at Academy of Environmental Leadership, and hosted by Agricolleges International, the online event was a success.

The conference was attended by 42 delegates via Zoom. Including Project Managers Hans Nijhoff (MSM) and Manuel Jackson (SU), there were 13 presenters which were: Andre Dellevoet (MSM), Danie Brink (SU), Laurika du Bois & Wynand Espach (Agricolleges International), Johan Klinck, Cain Maimela & Cyril Mazibuko (Motheo TVET College), Prof Puthsisi (Nkangala TVET College), Patric Malima (Vhembe TVET College), Huba Boshoff (Nuffic/NESO), Justin Smith (WWF South Africa) and Peliwe Lolwana (South African Qualifications Authority).

The main issue raised involved the quality of course content at TVET Colleges in regard to industry needs. Smart Agriculture course content should get staff and students educated, confident and competent in smart farming practices and technology use. It is also crucial, for them to understand the fast-moving development of technology.

To establish a stronger connection with the industry, TVET colleges were encouraged to establishing a steering committee for each 3H partnership. This should include people with business management skills, marketing skills and customer care. A clear set of practical steps in furthering these initiatives through ‘communities of learning-action’ were presented by Andre Dellevoet.

Responsible food production was also an important topic which was covered by Justin Smith from the WWFSA who highlighted that ‘responsible food production’ is a need.

In South Africa:

  • 26% of the population is food insecure
  • 50% increase in food consumption
  • 71% of women are overweight
  • 70% source food from informal markets
  • every year there are fewer job opportunities available in agriculture
  • climate change issues are real for the agriculture and horticulture industry
  • only 3% of land has a “reliable climate” for agriculture

As part of water-smart technologies, the agriculture and horticulture sector should not forget to address these existing socio-economic and environmental challenges.

The importance of this inaugural meeting was to launch the 3H platform by raising awareness on several problems within the agriculture and horticulture sector, starting a conversation on the possible solutions that may exist and most importantly by initiating actions that can be taken towards these solutions. The audience participated in the discussion and highlighted the lack of government input and attendance which was found to be of great concern. Nevertheless, all TVET colleges indicated great enthusiasm, willingness and readiness to get started and establish 3H platforms in their regions.

Overall, the aim of this 3H platform, is to further boost adaptation of water-smart technology in the Limpopo, Free State, and Mpumalanga regions. This platform will act as a multi-stakeholder initiative in the domain of water-smart agriculture and horticulture. It will unite local government, local academia and SU researchers, farmers and agri-businesses. As the platform is based upon farmer-driven initiatives, stakeholders themselves will jointly find local solutions for local challenges. Solutions can come by making available technologies, sharing knowledge, providing tailored skills trainings, opening networks to finance, and so on. Our next steps include, preparing TVET’s to facilitate and support this platform in their regions and to bring more farmers, government and industry participants as well as launching our next 3H platform in the Northern and Western Cape provinces.

About the project
The project combines the promotion of agriculture growth and sustainable & equitable water use. It will concentrate on the educating young people in the field of optimizing water usage & climate smart agriculture. The consortium bases its focus on improving the skills and employability of TVET graduates, the TVET programs must be based on the needs in the agriculture and water labour market.

The project is managed by Maastricht School of Management in collaboration with Stellenbosch University. MSM and SU together with the consortium that exist out of Graafschap College, CINOP Global, Q-Point BV, Acacia Water BV, SaltFarm Texel, AgriColleges International (ACI) andAcademy for Environmental Leadership (AEL) capacitate Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute, Boland College, Vhembe TVET College, Motheo TVET College, Nkangala TVET College and Northern Cape Rural TVET College.during the Labour Market Needs Assessment workshops. The establishment of the triple helix platform, which is scheduled to be launched in the first quarter of 2021, will be based on partnerships with private and government actors established during the labour market needs assessment.

Orange Knowledge Programme
This project is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) which is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic. For more information click here.

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