After months of meticulous planning and networking, Friends of UKZN Agriculture – the University’s very own Agricultural Alumni Society – was launched on 25 May.

Earlier in the year, the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences was approached by enthusiastic alumni and individuals from various agribusinesses with the aim of improving their networks and relationships with their alma mater.

Led by Managing Director of LIMA, Mr Duncan Stewart and a dedicated committee of volunteers, these supporters formed the society.

Stewart said the main objective of the society was to form closer working relationships between UKZN agriculture and agribusiness stakeholders.  ‘We need to close the gap.  The University has contributed massively to the economy and to the sector and feeds us quality graduates.  The brain trust of agriculture in this country is alumni and it’s time to plough back in and to give back.’

The idea of a more active alumni group and a closer working relationship between agribusinesses and the University was received with a great deal of excitement by Dean and Head of School, Professor Albert Modi, who felt that there was considerable scope for collaboration and research between the University and the agricultural sector.  

Modi was passionate in his belief that the University had a primary role to play in agricultural skills provision for the continent and that agricultural training and research were critical components for food security and poverty alleviation in Africa.

‘UKZN remains one of only three South African universities in the world top 500 rankings and is the only one of the three which offers a degree in agriculture,’ said Modi.

Friends of UKZN Agriculture was formally launched on 25 May - the opening day of the Royal Agricultural Show in Pietermaritzburg – and the province’s agribusiness community came out in force with about 150 alumni gathering to show their support.

As Founder and Chairperson of the Society, Stewart said the body aimed to ‘explore and build bi-lateral relationships and networks within the agricultural sector’.   Its immediate goals were to organise social events, publish newsletters and magazines, raise funds and create viable and mutually beneficial business relationships and networks.

author email :