Walter Sisulu University (WSU) will establish a faculty of agriculture and rural development by 2012, said Professor Noluthando Luswazi, director of the university’s Centre for Rural Development this week.
She was speaking at the opening of WSU’s Sixth Annual Rural Development Conference in Mthatha on Tuesday. The new faculty is rooted in WSU’s aim to be a “centre of excellence in rural development,” she said.
Specialist focuses on animal health, agriculture engineering, soil science and the school of rural development would be included in the new faculty’s envisaged five schools. The faculty would work closely with the surrounding community to empower the locals and will open in 2012, Luswazi said.
Welcoming delegates to the conference, WSU vice-chancellor Professor Marcus Balintulo, said the number of local community members attending the university’s annual conference on rural development had increased since is the inaugural conference five years ago.
“In 2005 we had in attendance less than 200 people and today we have more than 500 people,” he said.
Luswazi noted that the conference had since 2005 played a major role in WSU’s work towards establishing the new faculty. “The conference resolutions gave us courage to approach the [WSU] senate, where a resolution was passed and later tabled at council,” she said.
A previous conference had questioned how WSU could become a centre of excellence in rural development if the university did not even have a faculty of agriculture, she said.
Thirty-five experts are now drafting the curriculum for the faculty. “We look forward to a faculty that will be unique and foreground rural development,” she said.