Professor Frans Swanepoel

Prof Frans Swanepoel is a Research Fellow in Residence with focus on Future Africa ( at the Centre for Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria (UP), South Africa. He is former Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, and Professor at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa. He holds an appointment as Visiting Fellow at the Institute for African Development (IAD) at Cornell University, USA ( He currently chairs a consensus panel appointed by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) on the revitalisation of Agricultural Education, Training and Research in SA. He serves in various capacities, including as Board Member, and previously as Vice-Chairperson and Acting Chairperson, on the Board of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in SA – ministerial appointment. He also serves as board member of the Gates-funded African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) initiative based in Kenya (; and the continental Science Granting Councils Initiative ( funded by DfID and IDRC.

He is an accomplished scientific leader in South Africa and internationally, confirmed by his election during 2010 as a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), and his appointment as Senior Fulbright Fellow at Cornell University, USA (2008-2009), respectively. He is the first South African who has been elected as a foreign Fellow of the Ugandan National Academy of Sciences (UNAS). In 2016 Prof Swanepoel was recognised for his significant contributions to capacity development in support of agricultural transformation and development in Africa during the 5th African Higher Education Week, organised by the Regional University Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). RUFORUM is a network of 60 African universities, including the University of Pretoria (UP).

He was professor at five SA universities, incl. the Universities of Fort Hare (UFH), Pretoria (UP), Free State (UFS), Stellenbosch (SU) and Western Cape (UWC). He also served as Dean at UFH and was Director of the African Doctoral Academy at SU and Director of the Post-graduate School for Agriculture and Rural Development at the UP. He has lectured and held visiting appointments at a number of institutions in Africa and around the world. He obtained all his degrees [BSc, BSc Agric (Hons) and MSc Agric] with distinction, and already at a young age had an impressive list of invited conference contributions, international professional visits, refereed and popular-scientific publications and merit awards. With a PhD in Animal Breeding and Genetics (graduate coursework completed at Texas A&M University, USA), his early research career spanned more than a decade during which he worked in pioneering areas of beef production science, for which he obtained international recognition confirmed by his NRF rating.

His research interest advanced to smallholder agricultural production systems, agricultural education and training (AET) and agricultural research and innovation leadership in Africa. In this context during the past 15 years he has worked extensively in a leadership or advisory capacity with a number of African actors on agricultural research and capacity development on the continent. He participated as advisor in the development process of the Science Agenda for African Agriculture (SA3), and led the development of a continental framework for Agriculture Education and Skills Development (AESIF) for NEPAD. He was invited as the only SA participant to a high-level Bellagio Conference on Post-2015 MDGs: Enable African Countries to Take Ownership of the Continent’s Development Agenda. During 2014 he was appointed by the AUC to participate in preparatory workshops on PhD education that informed the Continental Summit on Higher Education in Africa held in Dakar in March 2015. He has been appointed to the Core Planning Committee for the AUC team to organise a follow-up HE summit during 2017 to be hosted by the President of Mauritius.

He has published extensively, with more than 170 scientific journal articles, conference proceedings, book chapters and reports. He has been chief-editor for three books, including the latest: Towards Impact and Resilience: Transformative Change in and through Agricultural Education and Training in sub-Saharan Africa by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK in collaboration with IAD at Cornell University, USA ( He has supervised/ co-supervised more than 50 Masters and PhD students to completion. He regularly acts as external examiner for Masters Dissertations and Doctoral theses at leading universities around the globe, including Cornell, USA; Ghent, Belgium; Western Australia, Perth; Nairobi, Kenya and Ghana, Legon, Accra. He has been elected as chairperson of the programme committee for the 3rd International Conference on Global Food Security to be hosted in South Africa during December 2017 (    

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