Excellence is a journey, not a destination

Posted on October 26, 2023

Professor Edilegnaw Wale Zegeye, newly appointed Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development (AEERD) at the University of Pretoria (UP), firmly believes that excellence is a journey, not a destination.

In his new role as HoD, he plans to put the Department on a development trajectory for continuous improvement. He agrees that while the Department has travelled long to become one of the best in Africa, there is always room for improvement in enhancing the relevance and impact of its research, teaching and community development. He reinforces that, quoting Mark Twain: “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection”. Prof Zegeye adds, “It is my mission to inculcate the ideals of creative tension in our team spirit.”

This view supports his vision for the Department, “making it sought after by students and partners (in South Africa and beyond) for excellent education, training, research and community development. I envisage changing the lives and livelihoods of all role players involved in agriculture, rural development, and value chain systems.”

Prof Zegeye has a PhD in Agricultural and Natural Resources Economics (University of Bonn), an MSc in Agricultural Development Economics (Wageningen University) and a BSc in Agricultural Economics (Alemaya University), all with distinctions. He received the best doctoral thesis award (Prize of Friends of ZEF) for 2003/2004 for his thesis titled “The economics of on-farm conservation of crop diversity in Ethiopia: incentives, attribute preferences and opportunity costs of maintaining local varieties of crops”.

He has published 90 peer-reviewed journal articles, seven book chapters, and five peer-reviewed conference proceedings on various agricultural development issues relevant to smallholder agriculture. His publications appear in reputed journals such as the Journal of Cleaner Production, Land Use Policy, Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, Ecological Economics, Agricultural Water Management, Ecology & Society, and Nature Scientific Reports.

Prof Zegeye has 25 years of research, teaching, postgraduate supervision, consultancy (IFPRI and ILRI) and community development experience. He has worked for Alemaya University, Bioversity International, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the University of the Free State. Before his appointment at UP on 1 October 2023, Prof Zegeye was an Agricultural Development Economics and Policy Professor at the University of the Free State since October 2020.

He has supervised and co-supervised to completion thirteen PhD and 22 MSc candidates. He has extensive experience in external examination of MSc and PhD studies for various universities in South Africa and abroad.

Prof Zegeye has taught various undergraduate and postgraduate courses, including Agricultural Policy and Development, Natural Resources Economics, and Research Methodology in Agri. Economics, Agricultural Price Analysis, Farm Management, Agricultural Projects Planning and Analysis, and Development Economics, among others.

He is currently the Associate Editor of one international (International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, impact factor 3.551) and another local (Agrekon) journal. Moreover, he regularly reviews for various internationally-accredited journals (Poverty and Public Policy, Environmental Science and Policy, Climate and Development, Development Studies Research, Food Policy, Agricultural Economics, Environment and Development Economics, and European Review of Agricultural Economics, among others). He is regularly serving as the reviewer of research proposals for funding by various national, regional, and international organisations.

Prof Zegeye believes that making AEERD a key player in transdisciplinary university-wide platforms such as the Future Africa Institute is essential. “Moreover, it is crucial to create an environment where every team member (including myself) is striving to be on the frontier of his/her potential as well as nurture a culture of stakeholder and partner engagement in teaching, research and community development from start to finish,” Prof Zegeye concluded.

- Author Martie Meyer

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