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National Certificate: Mixed Farming Systems

48971 National Certificate: Mixed Farming Systems 
SGB Primary Agriculture  
AgriSETA - Agriculture SETA OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
National Certificate Field 01 - Agriculture and Nature Conservation Primary Agriculture 
Undefined 120 Level 1 NQF Level 01 Regular-Unit Stds Based 
Reregistered SAQA 0695/12 2012-07-01 2015-06-30 
2016-06-30  2019-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc.), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 



The purpose of this qualification is to allow new entrants' access to the Primary Agricultural Sector with specific reference to Plant Production. The contextualized purpose and usage of the qualification is as follows: 

  • A learner assessed against this qualification will have the necessary competence to participate as part of a working team, performing the agricultural processes as applicable to Plant and Animal Production as required for a mixed farming system in a closely defined context and under close supervision. 

  • Competency will be gained in a combination of the sub-fields of Plant and Animal Production as specified under Areas Of Specialization (i.e. Small Stock, Large Stock as well as Vegetables, Fruit Production, Hydroponics, etc.) 

  • The learner will be able to take responsible decisions within a limited range based on a sound understanding of the basic principles of agri-business and good agricultural practices, in meeting the set objectives and targets within the broader farm plan which includes the economical application of general resources, agricultural production and technical knowledge and skills, all in a Mixed Farming context. 

  • The Learner will be able to carry out repetitive procedures in a predictable environment and will be able to adhere to the relevant safety, quality, hygiene and technical standards as applicable within the industry. 

  • In addition to the above, the learner will be well positioned to extend learning and practice into other sub-fields such as Plant Production and Animal Production, since such efforts will only require additional learning within the elective scope of other qualifications at this level. 

  • The learner will be well positioned to progress towards higher levels of Management and Technical production practices as defined by qualifications at the next level. 

  • Learners will be enabled to actively participate in the Primary Agricultural Sector through the production of quality agricultural products, enhancing the overall agricultural process and gain opportunities to access local, national and international agricultural markets. 

  • Finally, this qualification will allow qualifying learners to become economically active in farming practices that will have a direct impact on Local Economic Development through the production of food, the improvement of household food security and access to mainstream agriculture. 

This qualification provides learners the opportunity to gain a qualification in Mixed Farming Systems (Plant- and Animal Production). The range of typical learners that will enter this qualification will vary and includes: 

  • New entrants in farming who wish to progress to the level of Junior Labourer within farming operations in Mixed Farming Systems;

  • New entrants that wishes to enter the sector as farmers;

  • Learners in possession of different levels of practical experience in farming operations, which will be assessed and RPL'ed;

  • Possible candidates for promotion identified by the community as leaders.

  • Learners may come from both genders. 

The learner will engage in supervision and operational activities relevant to Plant Production. 

Requests and expressions of need for this qualification, coming from the broad, but also specific farming communities forms the basis for the development of this qualification. 

This qualification will form the basis for learners to extend their learning into more specialised areas of plant- and animal production and provides the basis of the establishment of sustainable farming operations through the inclusion of a wide spectrum of competencies required by farmers in South Africa. Whilst technical production orientated competencies are ensured, other aspects such as agri-business and good agricultural practices are included in the range of competencies required by farmers in order to enable them to strive towards agricultural management standards and practices at higher levels. 

Competent qualifying learners in this qualification will oversee quality agricultural products in mixed farming systems whereby enhancing the overall agricultural process and gain opportunities to access local, national and international agricultural markets. 



It is assumed that a learner entering a programme leading to this qualification has achieved numeracy, literacy and communication equivalent to ABET 3.

Recognition of Prior Learning:

This qualification may be achieved in part or in whole through the recognition of prior learning. Credit will be given to learning, which has already been acquired, through the appropriate process of assessment.

For example:

  • Learners who have acquired skills and competencies in this qualification through for instance experience in the industry will be assessed against the unit standards the qualification comprises of prior to entering learning. Credits will be allocated to those unit standards and exit level outcomes in which the learner is found competent. The outstanding unit standards will then be sequenced according to an appropriate learning programme.

  • Should a new entrant into the industry wish to enter this learning programme, recognition will be given to al appropriate learning acquired through the schooling system.

  • In terms of fundamental unit standards, competencies could be acquired through life experience.

Any learner wishing to be directly assessed may arrange to do so, without attending further training or education. The assessor and learner will decide together on the most appropriate assessment route to take. 






  • A minimum of 45 credits should be achieved in fundamental. All unit standards listed are compulsory. 


  • 64 credits should be achieved in core. All unit standards listed are compulsory. 


  • A minimum of 11 credits should be achieved in Elective, depending on the context of application of the unit standards. 



Exit Level Outcomes are divided into five categories of competencies, namely:

  • Fundamental Competencies

  • Agri-business

  • Agricultural Practices

  • Plant Production; and

  • Animal Production (This component has been included to ensure that Learners at this level is exposed to a small component of animal production)

Fundamental Competencies:

  1. Apply various communication skills within the agricultural environment.

  2. Apply mathematical calculations within the agricultural environment.

  3. Safely and accurately collect routine agricultural data by applying prescribed methods of data collection for agricultural purposes.

  4. Recognise the basic concepts of sustainable farming practices and be able to perform basic tasks in applying sustainable farming practices.


  5. Keep record and report appropriately on inputs and resources in an agricultural environment.

  6. Describe the production process in an agricultural environment.

  7. Describe the importance of marketing within the agricultural production process.

  8. Keep an accurate and current simple financial record keeping system in an agri-business environment.

  9. Apply the basic principles of human resources management in an agricultural environment.

  10. Understand the basic principles of enterprise selection and production.

    Good Agricultural Practices:

  11. Apply sound food safety principles by identifying risk factors in food contamination and applying preventative measures to ensure product safety.

  12. Observe and maintain basic water quality by working with the technical systems that control quality factors in water.

  13. Incorporate an understanding of the role of natural resource management in sustainable agricultural practices into existing farming activities by applying basic practices to conserve the environment, including natural resources,

  14. Carry out basic physical farm layout tasks including construction of rainwater harvesting and soil conservation structures in a small farm or garden environment

  15. Operate, care for and store basic tools and equipment in a safe and responsible manner.

    Plant Production:

  16. Apply soil nutrient preparations in a safe, effective and responsible manner. 

  17. Harvest agricultural crops by using basic harvesting tools. 

  18. Plant a range of crops according to correct placing, spacing and depth of the plant material. 

  19. Identify insects and explain the damage it can cause to crops. 

  20. Manipulate plants using pre-determined methods and techniques.

    Animal Production:

  21. Supply feeding by following the correct on-farm animal feeding practices. 

  22. Demonstrate an understanding of and identify the readiness of animal products for harvesting. 

  23. Observe the health status of the animals and will handle animals correctly. 



Fundamental Competencies:


  • Oral reports are made or data is entered on pre-printed forms or screens.

  • Instructions (including challenging, inappropriate or incorrect instructions) are received, evaluated, clarified and acted on.

  • Workplace language, e.g. special purpose gestures and terminology to describe conditions, events, problems and actions is used.

  • Meetings (describe conditions, state own opinions) are participated in.

  • Information is collected from a variety of sources by recognising / reading / and/or using sensory cues.

  • Information (collected from instruments, gauges, outputs, incidents, operations) is organised, summarised and responded to.

  • Conditions or states are determined by measuring (i.e. temperature, size, mass, colour).


  • Numbers are used to count and measure.

  • A calculator is used to add, subtract, divide or multiply.

  • Simple fractions and decimals are read and written.

  • Simple rations / percentages are applied as part of an instruction.

  • Proper use is made of number sequence, i.e. batch numbers.

  • Shapes are recognised.

  • Money is calculated in Rands and cents (related to pay, deductions, price, etc.)

  • Business related application are applied.

  • Underpinning natural science principles are applied.


  • Different elementary data collection methods are applied whilst agricultural data is collected.

  • Collected agricultural data is recorded correctly and accurately.

  • Data collection equipment is used and maintained.

  • Appropriate health, safety and hygiene standards are maintained throughout the data collection process.


  • Basic environmental patterns and processes such as soils, climate, water sources, topography, ecosystems pertaining to local conditions only are recognized.

  • An elementary comprehension of farming systems and design such as internal and external inputs; local, regional and export markets; diverse income sources; needs and aspirations of people is demonstrated.

  • Measurable indicators of sustainability such as social, economic and ecological are identified and described.



  • Agricultural inputs are received.

  • Storage information on inputs is sourced.

  • Stock levels are maintained.

  • Accurate records are kept.

  • Safety regulations are observed.


  • The concept of production is explained.

  • The basic functions within the production process are explained.

  • The transformation/conversion process is explained.


  • The marketing concept is explained.

  • The principles of supply and demand are explained.

  • The components and importance of marketing mix are explained.


  • Capital investment is explained.

  • Flow of money is explained.

  • Flow of cost is explained.

  • The concept of profit and loss is explained.

  • The basic components of basic financial record keeping system are explained.


  • Explain HR management rules and procedures applicable to the immediate work environment.

  • Adhere to relevant LR legislation.

  • Identify the different types and purposes of contracts and agreements.

  • Describe and apply health and safety rules and practices applicable to the workplace.


  • The natural resources required for the selection of an agricultural enterprise are identified, recognized and described.

  • The infrastructural requirements for the selection of the relevant enterprise are determined and described.

  • All livestock or crops on the farm are identified.

  • The relation between the natural resources, infrastructure, the choice of stock or crop and production cycle is explained.

Good Agricultural Practices:


  • Good personal hygiene practices are applied.

  • Preventative measures against food contamination are applied.

  • Warning signs regarding product safety (where applicable) are adhered to.


  • Water is sampled correctly and quality observed.

  • Water quality is recorded and reported on.

  • Minor maintenance tasks are performed on water quality technical systems.


  • The impact of farming operations and practices on the environment is explained.

  • Environmentally friendly methods of disposal and/or re-use of farm and domestically generated waste and pollutants are applied.

  • Biodiversity is maintained and increased.

  • Invasive alien plant species and noxious weeds are cleared.

  • On farm fire breaks and/or fire guards are established.


  • Veld, planted pasture and arable land are recognized.

  • Soil physical characteristics are related to land capability.

  • A swale (level contour bund), using a simple water level is constructed.

  • Swales and soil erosion prevention structures are maintained.


  • Tools and equipment that had been selected from a range of tools, are appropriate to the agricultural task.

  • Problems related to the use of tools and equipment are recognized and appropriate action is taken.

  • Routine maintenance tasks are performed in a safe manner.

  • Agricultural equipment is cleaned and stored correctly.

Plant Production:


  • Identify and apply nutrients correctly by using the appropriate application techniques.

  • Basic symptoms of nutritional deficiencies are identified.

  • Soil properties are explained. 


  • Tools, appropriate to the harvesting method and crop, are selected and the correct usage is demonstrated.

  • Crop is sampled for maturity indexing.

  • Harvesting procedures are applied.

  • Health, hygiene and safety measures are adhered to and applied.


  • Soil or growth medium is prepared and irrigated according to the plant/crop requirements.

  • Planting material is handled correctly for the successful establishment.

  • The effects of the environment on the specific crop are explained.

  • Correct placing, spacing and depth of the plant material is determined. 


  • Insects and other classes of animals are distinguished.

  • The basic anatomy of an insect is described.

  • Crop damaging appendages are located and the damages to plants are explained.

  • The life cycle of an insect is explained.

  • Distinguish between harmful and useful insects and pests.


  • Frameworks are developed according to the requirements of the crop.

  • Pruning, training and other manipulation techniques are applied. 

    NOTE: Assessment should be specific to the area of operation (i.e. Either horticulture or agronomy including but not limited to arable and/or dry land production). 

Animal Production:


  • The quality of animal feed is maintained and reported on.

  • Feed levels are observed and controlled.

  • Appropriate feed type and quantity is selected.

  • Correct feeding practices are applied.

  • Abnormal feeding behaviour is identified and reported on. 


  • The origin and purpose of harvesting and use of animal products is explained.

  • The indicators to determine the readiness for the harvesting of animal products are described.

  • The potential of animal products that can be harvested is described.

  • Correct techniques and procedures are applied.  


  • Behaviour and physical attributes are observed, recorded and reported.

  • Abnormalities in animal behaviour are observed and reported.

  • Animals are correctly, safely and successfully moved to and into a holding facility.

  • Animals are correctly and safely restrained in a restraint facility. 

    NOTE: Assessment should be specific to the area of operation (i.e. Either large livestock, small livestock, pigs, poultry, etc.) 

Integrated Assessment:

Integrated assessment at the level of the qualification provides an opportunity for learners to show that they are able to integrate concepts, ideas and actions across unit standards to achieve competence that is relevant and coherent in relation to the purpose of the qualification. 

Integrated assessment must judge the quality of the observable performance, but also the quality of the thinking that lies behind it. Assessment tools must encourage learners to give an account of the thinking and decision-making that underpin their demonstrated performance. Some assessment practices will be of a more practical nature while others will be of a more theoretical nature. The ratio between action and interpretation is not fixed, but varies according to the type and level of qualification. 

A broad range of task-orientated and theoretical assessment tools may be used, with the distinction between practical knowledge and disciplinary knowledge maintained so that each takes its rightful place. 

Generic nature of the unit standards and the context of assessment:

Because of the diverse nature of the primary agricultural sector, a generic approach to developing the unit standards has been adopted. This resulted in generic unit standards which should be contextualised within a specific area of operation, a specific agricultural commodity or specific agricultural system. Assessment therefore, should not be divorced from the context of application. All assessment tools, such as guides as well as the interpretation of unit standards and specifically range statements, should be contextualised within a specific agricultural commodity and/or system. 



In the case of the primary agriculture context it is difficult to compare the qualification and unit standards against similar international qualifications due to the vast differences in levels of mechanization and literacy of farm operators. It should also be noted that climatic and market conditions differ considerably between South Africa and other countries and the variety in commodities is therefore significant.

This qualification and associated unit standards have been evaluated against comparable qualifications and unit standards of the following Qualifications Authorities:

  • Australian AQF

  • New Zealand NQF, and

  • British NVQ's.

During this comparison the following was found:

Australian AQF: Although no specific qualification of this nature exists within the AQF, this qualification is partly comparable to the AQF Certificates I in Agriculture in both a plant- and animal production context. 
New Zealand NQF: Although no specific qualification of this nature exists within the NZQF, this qualification is partly comparable to the NZNQF National Certificates in Agriculture (Level 1) in both a plant- and animal production context. 
British NVQ: The level of this qualification is too low to be compared with any Agricultural Qualification of the NVQ since levels of literacy and learning assumed to be in place is considerably higher than in South Africa. 

Furthermore, input to the development of this qualification has been compared against international standards and qualifications and is evidenced in the following: 

  • Qualifications and competency units as defined by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training. 

  • The wide and narrow consultative process as well as the contributions made by role players from Universities and Technicons whom have a specific requirement for internationally comparable qualifications. 



A learner will be able to progress horizontally from one category to another, namely small stock, large stock or pig production, organic systems, perma culture systems, vegetable production, etc. (Please refer to the list mentioned under "Areas of Specialisation") He/she will be able to do this without re-doing the whole qualification, but by only completing the necessary elective unit standards. 

Furthermore, the learner will be able to progress horizontally to the following qualifications:

  • National Certificate in Animal Production, NQF 1;

  • National Certificate in Plant Production, NQF 1. 

This qualification allows access to the agricultural sector (refer to the SGB's brief and matrix) and gives access to the relevant agricultural qualification at NQF 2, namely:

  • National Certificate in Mixed Farming Systems, NQF 2. 

In terms of competencies, the learner will progress from farming operation skills to basic managerial skills to managerial skills. The scope of practice will also increase. 

The learner will be able to articulate with other occupations within the agricultural pharmaceutical operations such as laboratory assistant, assistance in the marketing and selling of agricultural pharmaceutical products and fertilisers. 

The learner will also be able to move to the secondary agricultural field. 


  • Anyone assessing a learner against this qualification must be registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA.

  • Any institution offering learning that will enable achievement of this qualification, or assessment against this qualification must be accredited as a provider with the relevant ETQA.

  • Moderation of assessment will be overseen by the relevant ETQA according to agreed ETQA procedures.

Therefore anyone wishing to be assessed against this qualification may apply to be assessed by any assessment agency, assessor or provider institution which is accredited by the relevant ETQA. 



Assessors need:

  • A minimum of 2 (two) years' practical experience in mixed farming systems practices relevant to an area of specialisation mentioned below; 

  • Practical experience in the specific agricultural commodity (which might include the list of "Areas of Specialisation" mentioned below or a specific commodity such as abelone, fish, ostriches, agronomic crop, horticultural crop, vegetable production, etc.) and/or system such as permaculture, organic production, etc. 

  • Technical competence in mixed farming production practices at, at least one NQF level above the assessee. 



As per the SAQA decision, after consultation with the Quality Councils, to re-register all qualifications and part qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework that meet the criteria for re-registration, this qualification has been re-registered from 1 July 2012.

Areas of specialisation of the qualification in Animal Husbandry include but are not limited to:

Small stock production

Poultry production

Animal fibres harvesting

Perma-culture production

Large stock production



Eco/Agri Tourism

Dairy production

Aqua / mari culture

Natural resources harvesting

Agro Chemicals

Pig production

Commercial insects

Organic production

Horse Breeding etc.


Areas of specialisation in Plant Production include but are not limited to:

  • Organic production,

  • Hydroponic production,

  • Perma-culture production,

  • Agronomy,

  • Horticulture,

  • Natural resources harvesting. 


Core 116197 Observe and handle animals Level 1 NQF Level 01 
Fundamental 116156 Collect agricultural data Level 1 NQF Level 01 
Elective 116148 Perform basic routine operations in a defined hydroponic context Level 1 NQF Level 01