Lesiba Mmethi (28), HR Officer at Carryou Ministry, has just returned from a three-week training course in China.
"The opportunity came about through the Chinese Embassy," says Carryou General Manager, Rev. Lawrence Mabaso. "We initially came into contact with them when we were setting up our bakery and, through the West Rand Chamber of Commerce, they provided local training courses for our bakery staff members.
"A few months ago they told me, as result of inter-government initiatives, around 300 short training courses are available in China to qualifying candidates and Carryou was eligible to send someone.
"Lesiba was an obvious choice and it was decided he should study something in the field of agriculture, as this would be of great benefit to our farming programme and he could pass on the knowledge gained," says Rev. Mabaso.
"That was one of the conditions for attendance," says Lesiba. "Students must implement what they are taught and are required to report back to the Embassy on how they did so."
The three week-long course saw 25 students, from a variety of developing countries around the world, travel to Beijing, Yangling, Xian and Shaanxi where they were given lectures by university professors and taken on field visits to farms in the area.
"What struck me most, is the way the Chinese farm every possible square inch of land," says Lesiba, "and how they are able to obtain such high-yields from small plots.
"That opened my eyes to new possibilities, not only in our farming programme but in South Africa in general. I learned many ways to farm more efficiently and how water can be used more sparingly yet still produce high yields.
"Now my first priority is to get the soil tested, to determine what nutrients are lacking and rectify the situation. This will allow us to broaden crop selections. In addition, we need to re-examine our irrigation systems to see if we can be more water-efficient.
"I grew up in Mpumalanga and have always been interested in farming, so this is an exciting opportunity and challenge," says Lesiba. "I'm looking forward to implementing what I learned and making a difference."