AEERD scooped awards at prestigious international conference

Posted on November 08, 2023

A delegation comprising staff and students from the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension, and Rural Development (AEERD) at the University of Pretoria (UP) not only participated in a significant joint conference, the 7th African Conference of Agricultural Economists and the 60th Annual AEASA Conference but also scooped up many awards. It took place in Durban in September.

This joint conference was hosted by the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA) and the African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE). The overarching theme was “Through crisis: Building Resilient Agri-Food systems in Africa”.

The University of Pretoria was well-represented through AEERD at this prestigious international conference. A total of 14 papers and two posters were accepted from the Department for presentation at the conference. This level of participation underscores the Department's research capability and commitment to contributing valuable insights and research findings to the discourse on agricultural economics and rural development in the African context.

Ten delegates from the AEERD at UP participated and presented their papers in the different thematic areas, which covered value chains and contracts, structural change, markets, farm management and mechanisation and machines. The following AEERD papers were presented by:

Dr Danie Jordaan: “Rapid transformation in South African beef chains: A case study of the North West Province”. 
Dr Wegayehu Fitawek: “The role of contract farming on household food security in Kenya and Madagascar”. 
Mr Prince Nketiah (PhD student): (i) “Evaluating the impact of fodder-purchase as drought mitigation strategy for smallholder cattle holdings”; and (ii)Modeling the impact of drought on smallholder cattle holdings”. 
Mr Hailay Tesfay (PhD student) “The effect of Ethiopia's land certification program on rural and peri-urban farmers' land tenure security; evidence from Tigray”.
Mr Sukoluhle Mazwane (PhD student): “Value-chain digitalisation and adoption intention by Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) farmers in the Eastern Cape Province South Africa”.
Ms Sikhanyiso Mhaka (PhD student): “Assessing the contribution of the Agricultural Economics profession in addressing graduate unemployment”.
Mr Light Ngobeni (Master’s student): “Evaluating smallholder farmers’ knowledge, attitude, and practice (KAP) towards cassava production in South Africa”.
Ms Karabo Lengoabala (Master’s student): Implications of FMD on livestock value chain activities within municipalities in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa”. 
Mr Hanco Marais (Master’s student): “Analysis of agriculture’s contribution towards South Africa’s economic growth and social development”.
Mr Mzwandile Dayimane (Master’s student): “Factors influencing asset accumulation among rural households in South Africa: towards asset-based resilience”.

In addition to the ten papers, AEERD achieved notable recognition in terms of awards during the conference. Among the awards received, Hanco Marais earned the esteemed distinction of the Best Undergraduate Student Award. An MSc Agric student, Mr Johannes Carel Kriek, supervised by Dr Selma Karuaihe and Prof Damien Jourdain, won the Best master's dissertation award. AEERD is also proud to highlight the accomplishment of its esteemed alumni, Dr Chiedza Tsvakirai, who won the Best International Journal Publication, which underscores the exceptional contributions of our alumni to the broader field of agricultural economics.

Moreover, the University of Pretoria's influence and leadership within the academic community were further solidified. Dr Sifiso Ntombela, an alumnus of the Department, was elected as the new President of AEASA, followed by another UP alumnus, Dr Manana Mamabolo, elected as the new additional member of AEASA.

The Department’s recognition stems from its contribution to the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA) over the years, where it hosted four past presidents, leadership and journal editorial positions. AEERD’s presence at AEASA conferences over the year has been significant, further enhancing the Department's representation and influence nationally and beyond.

In addition to the many awards to AEERD, another UP alumna, Dr Thinah Moyo, has been appointed as the Southern Africa representative on the African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) Executive Committee for 2023-2026. These achievements reflect the Department's commitment to excellence, our students' calibre and our alumni's continued impact on agricultural economics nationally, regionally and beyond.

Participating in such high-profile conferences holds immense significance, particularly for students and emerging researchers. These events are invaluable platforms for sharing research findings, fostering enriching dialogues with fellow researchers, and cultivating extensive networks and collaborative opportunities.

For staff members, these conferences also offer substantial advantages. They provide a platform to showcase their latest research endeavours, rejuvenate the social spaces where academic interactions flourish, forge fresh connections, nurture existing relationships, engage in exploratory discussions, and ignite new collaborative ventures. Such conferences are integral to the continuous growth and evolution of the academic and research community. As AEERD, we are proud to be part of such networks and would like to enhance them further and contribute towards UP’s strategic goals on research impact as the leading academic institution in Africa.

- Author AAERD

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