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ELSENBURG: A proud tradition
Elsenburg’s history dates back to 1698, when the land was allocated to Samuel Elsevier by Willem Adriaan van der Stel, at that time the governor of the Cape colony. The farm’s successive owners, among whom Martin Melck is probably the best known, built it up to one of the prime farms in the Cape. Martin Melck built the beautiful old manor house in 1761. The farm was sold to the government by the Myburgh family in 1898.
On 1 September 1898 the Agricultural College, the first of its kind in South Africa, opened its doors. Five students received their diplomas at the end of the first academic year (June 1899). During the first fourteen years of its existence the average number of students was 44. During the first World War, however, there was a drastic reduction in applications, with only 8 students studying there in 1915.
In 1926 Elsenburg College of Agriculture and the University of Stellenbosch amalgamated and a two-year diploma course was offered at Elsenburg, with the primary aim of training prospective farmers. In 1927 this course was replaced with a one-year course, which was replaced by practical courses in 1931. In 1939 the two-year diploma course was reinstated. Elsenburg’s relationship of 47 years with the University was severed in 1973 and the Department of Agriculture accepted responsibility for agricultural training at Elsenburg.
An important milestone in 1976 was the establishment of the Diploma in Cellar Technology. Almost 80% of South Africa’s winemakers today, received their agricultural training at Elsenburg.
In 1994, with the transformation to a democratic political order in South Africa, the Department of Agriculture: Western Cape was created. The Elsenburg and Kromme Rhee colleges of agriculture amalgamated. The amalgamation placed a great responsibility on the Department of Agriculture to continue and to expand the training offered. A Centre for Further Education and Training was consequently created to address the need for short, practical courses.
The relationship with the University of Stellenbosch was again initiated and since 2004 Elsenburg has been offering a B. Agric programme in association with the University of Stellenbosch’s Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences.
This development is in line with the government’s new academic policy to give tertiary students more mobility between educational institutions. Duplication of programmes is also eliminated.
From 1 April 2004 Elsenburg College of Agriculture is known as the Cape Institute for Agricultural Training: Elsenburg.