Supporting students through funding and networking

Published: 12 June 2020

Valerie Cilliers,
editor, SA Graan/Grain

Bursary schemes aimed at furthering agricultural research and administered by L&L Agricultural Services, are currently benefitting 31 postgraduate students from several South African universities. These bursaries are enabling research in a variety of fields, including plant breeding, soil microbiology, agricultural economics, biometry, agricultural engineering, agronomy, food sciences (relevant to the crop industry), conservation agriculture, data science and precision agriculture.

Maize Trust
Since its establishment, the Maize Trust has granted a large amount of money to a variety of organisations and institutions involved in research, development and information programmes in the South African maize industry. Through its bursary programme, the Maize Trust aims to increase the availability of appropriately qualified scientists and professionals to the South African maize industry. At present twelve students are benefitting from this particular bursary scheme.

Sasol Agriculture Trust
With the aim to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the South African agricultural industry, and provide support for enterprise development projects and emerging farmers, the Sasol Agriculture Trust supports initiatives aimed at enhancing education and training programmes for farmers and the agricultural industry at large. Five students are currently benefitting from this bursary scheme.

Sorghum Trust
The Sorghum Trust endeavours to aid and promote higher education in agriculture – more specifically, to promote the study of sorghum and its impact on agriculture. The collective founders of the trust, including producers, researchers, private industry and the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, seek to promote agricultural progress by identifying, educating and equipping demographically diverse and responsible individuals who have the potential to excel. The Sorghum Trust bursary scheme is currently funding one student, focusing on research on sorghum.

South African Cultivar and Technology Agency (SACTA)
Altogether 13 students are benefitting from SACTA’s bursary scheme, which was established to contribute towards ensuring that sufficient graduates address the relevant functional areas affecting breeding and technology in the industry. The aim is to increase the availability of appropriately qualified scientists and professionals within the industry, which SACTA believes will make a significant future impact with regard to breeding and technology within the grain and related industries.

Networking is key
Bursary students further benefit from networking opportunities such as the Meet and Greet event which was hosted by the Maize Trust, the Sasol Agriculture Trust, the Sorghum Trust and SACTA in 2019. Here, students are introduced to industry role-players and potential new employers. They are also exposed to value chain activities and the wide scope of job opportunities offered by the grain industries.

To further this vision, the trusts and agency are planning a soft skills development workshop. This Graduand Career Skills Development Workshop, which had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 lockdown, will be rescheduled for 2021 and is geared towards preparing students for the job market. The workshop will provide an opportunity for invited bursary recipients as well as privately funded students and industry representatives to network and discuss career opportunities, options and developments within the agricultural sector in a relaxed environment. The intention is to expand the workshop to include bursary students and representatives from other agricultural industries, for example the various oilseed industries.

For more information on the workshop or on the various bursary schemes, phone Laura du Plessis on 012 807 3958, send an email to, or visit L&L Agricultural Services added an Alumni tab to the website where published theses and dissertations of previous bursary holders will be available to all industry stakeholders. The website will be further enhanced over time to address and provide the requirements and needs of the industries concerned.