The Animal Feed Manufacturers’ Association (AFMA) is launching the continent’s first training feed mill at the 2020 AFMA Forum. Africa’s first research and training feed mill will be located at the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Miertjie le Roux Experimental Farm near Bronkhorstspruit. The research and training feed mill is an initiative of the AFMA board of directors, driven by the AFMA/UP Research and Training Feed Mill Project committee.
Taking industry hands
“This is one of the end products of years of challenges and innovation that would not have been possible without the industry’s input or our partners. AFMA entered into a joint venture with the University of Pretoria when the MoA was signed on 11 December 2018,” said De Wet Boshoff, executive director of AFMA. “According to the MoA, AFMA will, via its members and industry role-players, contribute towards the research and training feed mill and the laboratory, as well as other equipment necessary for the establishment and ongoing operations of the mill on the principle of ‘for the industry, by the industry’. UP will contribute the site and infrastructure and will handle the operation of the mill, assisted by AFMA specialists.”
Boshoff said that other partners include Learning Pathways, which created the e-learning platform that forms part of the training, and AgriSETA, which has assisted AFMA for many years. AFMA has also partnered with Agri Jobs, the online platform that helps find candidates for jobs in the agri industry. He said that this project has been in the making for more than seven years. Herman van Deventer, who serves on AFMA’s skills development and training committee and is the founder and director of Learning Pathways, said the venture started in 2008. In 2015 the final application was submitted, and approval was only granted in 2017.
Closing the gap
Van Deventer said the biggest challenge was establishing recognition for the occupation of a feed miller. He said that government has an occupation framework document which stipulates the different types of occupations. According to the document, feed miller is not recognised as an occupation by the Department of Higher Education and Training – they recognise miller but not a feed miller, which field of specialisation lies within the livestock industry.
According to a press release by AFMA, the objective of the joint venture is to establish a research and training feed mill to close the gap that currently exists in the skill set of most animal nutrition students who are finishing tertiary education. This skill set is only developed while employed in the formal feed industry and can take up to three to four years of inhouse training. The reason for the gap stems mainly from the fact that students finishing their degree or post-graduate studies have little to no practical experience of the actual feed milling environment. Post-graduate students, furthermore, do not have a practical feed milling environment to conduct proper, practical and innovative research and development. Due to the lack of physical infrastructure and means to give shape to the practical side of theory in the past, tertiary academic institutions could not include this in their under-graduate or post-graduate curriculums. – Ursula Human, AgriOrbit