KZN gets 205 assistant agricultural extension officers

The leadership of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development (KZN DAEARD) recently showed their committment to resurrecting agricultural extension services by employing 205 national diploma graduates as assistant agricultural extension officers.

These individuals have two years to earn a degree in agriculture so they can become fully-fledged extension officers.Speaking at the launch of the extension recovery programme, KZN DAEARD MEC Lydia Johnson said using previously unemployed diploma graduates is a way to give them work and a way to allow them to contribute to improved agricultural extension in the province.

Johnson’s spokesperson, Ncumisa Mafunda, said while they were earning their agricultural degree, the assistant extension officers had more than enough skills to support homestead food production as a means of improving food security. They could also take advantage of Cedara Agricultural College to turn their diplomas into degrees.KZN currently has 871 wards and only 487 extension officers.

“This translates into two wards per extension officer, which is inadequate given the tasks at hand,” explained Mafunda.KZN Agricultural Union president Robin Barnsley praised the move, calling it a step in the right direction. “A fundamental hurdle to achieving government’s goals of an agrarian revolution was the lack of extension in this province,” he said. “The MEC’s idea is very positive, albeit long overdue, and it will open up career opportunities for the youth in agriculture.”