BKB Sheep and Wool Academy for southern Africa – a Master of an academic industry collaboration agreement

“Our prosperity as a nation depends on our ability to take full advantage of rapid technology change. Meaning that we urgently need to develop our capabilities in the areas of science, technology and innovation.” These were the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa at his first ‘state of the nation’ address (Times, 2018).

Technological innovation has led to a need to redefine the next generation of farmers. Farmers, as scientists, are required to acquire and possess new skills at a far more rapid pace than past or present generations. Knowledge-sharing is regarded as the exchange of information and expertise between organisations and individuals, together with the concept of knowledge sharing and creation. The collaborative relationship between industry and private academics creates a favourable environment for knowledge-creation and sharing.

The BKB Sheep and Wool Academy for southern Africa (Pty) Ltd (SWASA) is a masters example of such a collaboration agreement between BKB Ltd – industry, and the International Agricultural Academy for Africa (Pty) Ltd (i3A) – private sector.

BKB Ltd is a significant player within the agricultural industry with a permanent staff complement of 1543 employees and 2110 seasonal employees, learners or contractors. BKB further pride itself in being a high performing organisation that puts their people first. The BKB best practice processes act as enablers to their people, empowering each individual to grow within the organisation.

With a commercial agricultural base of more than 62 000 customers, BKB has developed into a leading agricultural industry giant in the international agricultural market. BKB has earned the reputation of trust through comprehensive services with skilled technical field advisers in the production of wool, mohair, livestock and grain.

The BKB Sheep and Wool Academy for southern Africa is an independent private Agricultural Academy that offers industry-developed qualifications, accredited Certificates and Diplomas in Animal Production (meat and wool) to scholars, students, producers and farm workers.

SWASA offers the opportunity to every BKB trading partner to participate in the development and training of industry relevant skills according to the latest technology and product information available in the agricultural industry.

The SWASA sheep and wool curriculum is divided into 12 modules, each of which forms part of a National Diploma in animal production and has also been developed in line with the existing Agricultural schools programs for Grades 10 to 12.

Scholars schooling at agricultural schools can participate in the program to earn credits in order to obtain the National Certificate in Animal Production at NQF Level 4 together with the National Matric certificate.

This Certificate also carries enough Credits to obtain a 2-year National Diploma in Sheep and Wool Production within only one extra year after matric. As a qualified junior farm manager, a school leaver can therefore start working directly after school, earn income and start building a career with practical experience at a very young age.

As part of the International Agricultural Academy for Africa (i3A), SWASA is working hard to offer the students the further opportunity to obtain a private B. Agric or B.Sc Agric degree in the future.

All SWASA qualifications are offered online via the internet as e-learning programs on the Agri-pedia technology platform. SWASA short courses are offered for students to gain practical field work.

Agri-pedia is an Internet Technology computer platform that presents all information in text, video, animation and graphic format. It makes the transfer of information refreshing and visually understandable.

This e-learning platform offers all the benefits of e-learning instruction. The student can study in his or her own time, within the framework of his or her individual ability, and within the comfort of his or her own place and space.

E-learning offers huge savings on study costs in terms of classroom infrastructure, travel and accommodation costs. The student has access to continued personal support from subject specialists at i3A and BKB.

The biggest advantage is that studies can be continued while the student is employed full time at a farm or other industrial workplace.

Practical contact sessions are offered by BKB technical staff in collaboration with other relevant specialists representing trading partners and products from industry.

Mr Giepie Calldo (BKB) providing hands-on training to students

Every BKB trading branch across South Africa is a SWASA administration office for the benefit and utilisation of every client and his children or farm workers who want to study.

Mr. Mike van den Berg, BKB Manager: Fiber (Eastern region), said at the launch of SWASA that the academy is a solution to a dilemma that is currently being experienced in the wool industry. “One aspect is the deterioration of formal training and the loss of expertise to the industry. This means that young farmers go to the farm with limited knowledge, which increases the gap between the older generation of experienced farmers and the younger entrant farmers”. Through this unique collaboration agreement between BKB and i3A, SWASA is the active contribution from industry to closing the knowledge gap.

For more information or inquiries, follow the SWASA link on the BKB website, or inquire at your nearest BKB branch manager.