Youth Month 2022: Ofentse Ntwe

Youth Month 2022: Ofentse Ntwe

June is Youth Month, and this year the NRF is celebrating the youth of the NRF who are working towards achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. We thank all participants for sharing their stories with us and we hope that you are inspired by the young NRF-affiliated researchers who are helping to ensure a sustainable planet for all.

Ofentse Ntwe is a Master’s student in Agricultural Economics at North-West University’s (NWU) Mafikeng Campus. He’s embarking on his PhD in Agricultural Economics next semester and has received a PhD scholarship from the NRF for 2022.

This is his story…

I was born and raised in a rural area called Lerome in Rustenburg. I was raised by my grandmother in a family of four. I have a younger brother and mother. I went to local public schools, namely Mokhine Primary School, Lerome Middle School and Tshomankane Secondary School.

My career journey has been hard, exciting and informative. Growing up in a rural area, agriculture was part of my everyday life but there was no growth or improvement in production or farming activities. This triggered my interest in studying agriculture and improving the agricultural situation in my community and my country.

I acquired my tertiary education at the NWU Mafikeng Campus. This exposed me to the world of research and its significance in policy formulation in the agricultural sector. My current path is not entirely as I had envisioned as I had to learn a lot and make important decisions, but my main goal of contributing to the change in rural agriculture has stayed with me.

My NRF PhD scholarship will help me to pursue my dreams and enhance my understanding and intellect in my field of study.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles to be where you are today, and what did you learn from it?

I overcame a lot of obstacles to get where I am today but the most impactful obstacle was when I was financially excluded for six months. To overcome this obstacle, I constantly looked for sponsors or bursaries that could assist. I got assistance and continued with my studies.

What is your research focus/area of expertise?

My research is based on the inclusion of affordable innovative technologies in the field of agriculture for the improvement of rural farming households. The topic for my current research is “Exploring the potential use of e-agriculture in easing market access for smallholder farmers in the Bojanala district.” My research focuses on agricultural economics and extension.

The United Nations identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure “…a better and more sustainable future for all…” by 2030. Which of these goals are you addressing through your research, or in your personal life?

Goal 2: Zero hunger. Increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers and income. Productivity avails food and income gives a farmer purchasing power for other food needs in the household.

Goal 5: Gender equality. Women in South Africa participate more in agriculture compared to men but they do not make much from farming as the rand share of a farmer is low due to a lack of information about markets. Therefore, providing women with the necessary technology and information will increase their share of the rand for their commodities and infrastructure.

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. The research recommended that there should be improvements in the industry of agriculture through innovative concepts such as e-agriculture and improvement in the ICT infrastructure to improve the farmer.

Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions and Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals. I always have been an advocate of peace and justice as these are the core pillars of growth for any community, country or region. I also advocate for strong institutions which are not powerful enough to neglect the rule of law. Personally, I believe that goals in any sector, including the agricultural sector, can be reached effectively and efficiently when different involved parties work together and share information in reaching collective goals.

What are some of your proudest achievements?

My proudest achievement was obtaining my BSc Hons degree in Agricultural Economics and continuing with my studies afterwards.

What are your career aspirations for the future?

I would like to start a community food security program in my village; become an NRF-rated researcher; and become a board member of an agricultural organisation.  

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