S.D. FFA officers visit South Africa

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS — South Dakota State FFA Officers Shala Larson and Carrietta Schalesky, both students at South Dakota State University, recently returned from an eight-day trip to South Africa. The girls traveled with several other State FFA Officers as part of the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers (ILSSO) organized by the National FFA Organization.

While in South Africa, Larson and Schalesky became familiar with the climate, agriculture, culture, economics and demographics of the region.

“Although the country is always in a large shortage of water and has dry soil, they are very productive working with the weather conditions they have. They are far more up-to-date in agriculture than I would have ever expected,” Larson said.

“While in South Africa we got to visit things like a crocodile farm that was home to over 10,000 crocodiles, a variety of farms and factories, and places where we experienced African land and animals, such as giraffes, zebras, many different birds, thousands of trees and grasses, rhinos, ostriches and much more,” Schalesky said.

Throughout their visit to South Africa, Larson and Schalesky did visit a variety of places, including:

• Inyoni Crocodile Estate: a tourist attraction and commercial crocodile farm.

• Langplaas Vegetable Farm: a fourth generation vegetable farm specializing in butternuts, garden beets, carrots, sweet potatoes and onions.

• Senwes-Bunge: one of the leading agribusinesses in South Africa.

• John Deere Parts Distribution Warehouse: a warehouse that serves over 100 John Deere dealers in Africa.

• Bonsmara Farm: a cattle farm that raises Bonsmara, an indigenous breed of beef cattle.

• Ayrshire Dairy Farm: an Ayrshire milk processor that both sources and packages Ayrshire milk.

• Taaiboschbult Feedlot: a 26,000-head cattle feedlot.

• Beestepan Farm: a cattle farm that also produces corn, potatoes and soybeans.

• Ohrigstad Private Game Reserve: a game reserve that breeds and markets the Sable antelope, one of the rarest breeds of antelope in Africa.

• Ambrosia Citrus Estate: a subtropical farm that consists of 350,000 lemon, orange and grapefruit trees.

• Kruger National Park: a park whose “top five” animals include lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo.

• Leeubank Farm: a 4,000-head Merino sheep farm that also raises Tuli and Pinzgauer cattle, corn and soybeans.

• The Agriculture School of Sabina Khoza: a poultry farm that produces 150,000 birds each year and doubles as an agricultural school for both men and women.

• Tshwane Fresh Produce Market: the second largest market in South America which is unique in that prices are formed and fresh produce is traded with the goal of mutual benefit to everyone involved.

• Sakata Southern Africa Vegetable Seed Company: one of the major vegetable seed houses in South Africa.

Larson and Schalesky spent January 5-13 traveling throughout South Africa. Having returned to South Dakota, they are both beginning their spring semester at SDSU where Larson is studying agricultural education and Schalesky is majoring in animal science. Both girls will retire from their State FFA positions in April during the South Dakota State FFA Convention.