UT students travel to South Africa to cultivate knowledge of global agriculture industry

Three UT students traveled with FFA to South Africa in January to learn about South African culture and the agriculutre industry, allowing them to cultivate ideas on how to improve agriculture in the United States.

//Photo by Ryan McGill

Three students from the University of Tennessee recently traveled to South Africa with the National FFA Organization for an agricultural learning opportunity.  

Ally Clark, Sam Daniel and Dalton Teel arrived with the team of 75 researchers in South Africa and stayed from Jan. 4-16. The students took this trip as an opportunity to learn about South African agriculture and how to apply their principles in the United States.

While there are cultural differences between the two countries, agriculture is the strong relationship between the everyday man and the farmer. In America, the usage of antibiotics and GMOs are on the rise, which results in many organizations, like PETA for example, to put pressure on parts of the agriculture industry. However, Clark noted that South Africans are more conscious of who makes their food and how they make it.

Credit: John Vandergriff
(L-R): Sam Daniel, Ally Clark and Dalton Teel

“In The United States we have people who fight against the agriculture industry. We thought it was interesting to see that their people really appreciated what their farmers do,” Clark said.

Teel said that while some Americans are several generations removed from the farming business, many South Africans are only one or two generations removed from that lifestyle. This gives them a stronger understanding of what is involved in the business of growing food.

South Africans maintain this connection to farmers through a strong agritourism industry. The group visited farmers that had sections of their homes operating as a bed and breakfast for people looking for a rural place to stay. This allows travellers an opportunity to learn what goes into the process of farming certain crops and gives them an understanding and connection to farmers, which the United States lacks.

“We could use that back here in the States to really show people where their food comes from,” Daniel said.

Looking into the future of agriculture, the group met a farmer, Andre, who suggested that goats are the future of global meat production. He said goats are easier to produce than cattle or hogs, and religious organizations like Islam and Judaism place dietary restrictions on pork, while Indian culture largely abstains from eating beef. Goat, however, is fair game.

“Even in the United States, goat production is on the rise,” Teel said. “In major cities, there are markets that specialize in goat production.”

For anyone considering a trip like this, the group advised to go, but forget your expectations. “Not only is it geographically beautiful, but the people are some of the greatest in the world,” said Daniel.

Featured Image by Ryan McGill

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

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