The South African Agricultural Graduates Association (SAAGA) is a movement created for the agricultural graduates based on the common grievances and experiences faced by a lot of graduates in this field.
SAAGA is a movement that started on social media but is now fully registered and compliant.
SAAGA’s chairman, Malose Mokgotho, a graduate in Agricultural Management with the University of South Africa, is the visionary man behind the association.
He said the movement has given hope to thousands of agricultural graduates in the country since it was established.
Its secretary general Zwelethu Zulu, a graduate in Animal Production from the Universityof Limpopo said that Initially, as graduates, they had plans to write an open letter to president Cyril Ramaphosa.
“At that time, it felt like the best route to follow in order to be heard as the country had just implemented Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and we could not arrange a protest as graduates,” says Zulu.
Amongst grievances raised within the open letter were the exploitation of graduates as general labours at farms when they get absorbed in the farms as training students.
Mokgoto said they understand the importance of primary farming, “but what would be the use to learn other modules if all graduates are subjected to only one stream of agriculture? This is the plan the department has for us, the graduates, hence we see the highest unemployment rate”.
“We share more or less the same problems as graduates. We aim to bring back the dignity of agricultural graduates in this country, to influence policies and policy makers in order to protect the investment made into agriculture because it is time as black community, we move from typical farming into best agricultural practices and we need agricultural graduates for that. We are here to uplift abandoned projects, occupy rural land and bring in job opportunities,” said Mokgotho.
“When president Ramaphosa called for the action plan to recover the economy and Minister Thoko Didiza followed by releasing state farms, we welcomed the move as a step in the right direction.
“However, as SAAGA, we urge that graduates should be appointed to assist in growing these farms as effective and efficient as possible,” said Mokgotho.
Annually, the department of agriculture loses 60% of its graduates to the department of education and others. The rest are split between research and development candidates and unemployed graduates. Only 8% become small scale farmers.
“We are aware that there’s a free entry in agriculture as anyone can practice it, unfortunately, in black communities, it is mostly taken up by people who have retired from other jobs and that means three decades of lost generational wealth.”
SAAGA says it chooses to rectify the mindset when it comes to practicing agriculture over traditional farming so as to effectively grow the local economy by occupying unused and less productive agricultural projects in all provinces and letting knowledge defeat poverty.
“This is the movement that require support and endorsement from organizations believing in same objective of uplifting young people in agriculture,” concluded Mokgotho.