Writes Mofana Makakane
Not only is it the 50th year Lesotho is celebrating its independence but also its 54th year that its only agricultural college hold graduation ceremony. The service, which was held on the 12th October at Lesotho Agricultural College premises was not only adorned with the presence of Deputy and Minister of Agriculture and Food Security but also National University of Lesotho Vice-Chancellor, parents of graduands and respective agriculturists, not forgetting our very own editor Mr Tjonane Matla.
Now former Pupils looked striking as always in their graduation gowns, designer suits and dresses to receive their hard-earned certificates.
“Etsang hore le thehe mesebetsi. Ka ho etsa joalo le tla be le nanabetsa letsoho morerong oa ‘Muso oa ho theha mesebetsi kahare ho naha” uttered the Hon. ‘Mapalesa Mothokho translated; “Make sure you create jobs. By doing so you would have assisted the government on their policy of creating jobs in the country”.
The Minister said this while addressing student farmers and entrepreneurs that have completed their three-year study at the institution.
She further stated that the Student Enterprise Programme (SEP) is a guide adapted in LAC to allow students the freedom to develop their business concepts. The programme was made known to the LAC community 29 years ago with the intention of ensuring that students pursuing their Diploma in general Agriculture and Home Economics are afforded an opportunity to grasp life skills associated with running a real enterprise including working as part of a team, managing production and finances, organizing sales and marketing campaign and liaising directly with customers so that after graduation they will play a productive role in agricultural related enterprises in Lesotho.
“Other certificates or deeds issued by the institution but are not part of the SEP programme are; Forestry and Resources Management, Home Economics Education, Agricultural Engineering, Land and Water Management” voiced the Minister further saying that the SEP programme is not the key programme offered at LAC but the one that trains students to become entrepreneurs.
“Lenane la thuto lena la SEP le bohlokoa haholo ‘me le hloka ho holisoa. Ha se feela hore ke lona la mantlha sekolong sena empa ke lona le otlang baithuti ho ba etsa bahlahisi ba mesebetsi kahare ho naha”
The question that remains is; What type of agricultural graduates does Lesotho need?
Editor of The Silo was called upon to share his thoughts and vision with the class of 2016 just after he had sealed a deal with some of the Expo 2017 partners who together came up with the above theme for 2017.
He however reminded students that they are the children of war, they are graduating at the time of economic recession; when there are no funds to even make them a decent send off after studying very hard. Moreover, he motivated the farmers and entrepreneurs with words from a great leader, Nelson Mandela who had only one quotation in farming, which reads as follows; ‘Farming is not an easy thing’.
“…it is complicated and to trade with that science and hope to earn a living out of such, you must have what it takes to survive as entrepreneurs” he added.
Contrary to the graduation the Minister spoke about the radical change LAC is about to face. She shared with parents of graduands, invited guests and students that the college is meeting challenges, a significant among which is the transformation of the college to meet the expectation of the country on agricultural education and training. The Minister added on the matter by explaining that Cabinet has instructed that the institution must prepare for autonomy within the coming two years.
“…the policy direction is to relocate the LAC to the Ministry of Education and Training which in actual fact it should have been in the first place because it is a training institution. Allow me to instruct the Ministry of Agricultural management to faster the college aggregation process, programmes as well as institutional aggregation should be completed by the competence body, the council of higher education. It is important to complete this process within this financial year”
She concluded her speech by cautioning students of the HIV/AIDS plague, citing that it is a major health concern to our country and that it has taken the lives of many youngsters who are the work force. Everybody needs to know his or her status.
“Congratulations to the graduates and wish them good luck and a bright future wherever they go”
- Students projects run in the following areas;
Livestock; Baby chicken, Broiler, Beef, Dairy, Lamb fattening, Layer and Piggery.
Crops; Mushroom production, seedling production and Vegetable production.
- The programme extends beyond LAC curriculum to the mentoring of the ex-SEP graduates.
- 720 graduands have completed SEP since 1987 to date