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Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development

Prospective Students

Over the past few years the field of Agricultural Economics has been intensified and expanded. This field of study was established in the 20th century with farm management and commodity marketing as a focal point. This, however, was expanded to the analysis of questions on agricultural strategy, policy, food security, optimal use of resources, agricultural finance, international trade, and the link between agriculture and the rest of the economy. Agricultural economists are revolutionary users of any development in economics theory and econometrics, and apply it in different aspects within the agricultural and textile industry.

We offer the following courses, where the emphasis falls on agribusiness management and agricultural economics:

BSc (Agric) Agricultural Economics: Agribusiness Management

The first-year of study comprises a combination of BSc subjects (for example, Chemistry, Physics and Biology) and economics subjects (for example, Financial Accounting and Economics). The second year of study also comprises a combination of BSc subjects (for example, Botany, Livestock Science and Soil Science) and Economics subjects (for example, Business Management, Statistics, Business and Labour Law). In the third and fourth years of study, students exercise a choice regarding combinations of Biology and Economics subjects with Agricultural Economics as the main focus.

BCom Agribusiness Management (code 07130091)

Students follow basic Economics subjects in the first and second years (for example, Accounting, Statistics, Business and Labour Law, Financial Management, Business Management, Economics) and in the third year they specialise in Agricultural Economics.

What can you do with the different degrees?

These fields of study offer a wide variety of opportunities:

  • Marketing of agricultural and food products
  • Supply-chain management for food and fibre products
  • Farm management
  • Dispensing advice on marketing, risk management and farm management
  • Policy matters
  • Agricultural and rural financing
  • Environmental resource accounting
  • Rural development
  • Trading in agricultural derivatives
  • Agricultural co-operatives.

We are very proud of the fact that all our final-year students have obtained work in the past few years. They are employed at:

  • Financial institutions: ABSA, Standard Bank, FNB, Land Bank, IDC, Development Bank
  • Agribusinesses and agricultural co-operatives: Agri, Senwes, South-west Co-operative, Sasol, Nestlé, Omnia, Tiger Milling, KWV, WPK, Clover, Agrista
  • Futures market and grain dealers: Grainvest Futures, Cargill, Farmwise, commercial banks, HG Grain
  • Government institutions: Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, National Harvest Estimates Committee, National Agricultural Marketing Council, Department of Land Affairs
  • Producer organisations: GrainSA, CottonSA, Milk Producers’ organisation
  • Provincial and local governments and municipalities.
  • Consultation: micro-financing, black economic empowerment, strategic planning, business analysis and forecasting.

Examples of our alumni’s careers

The following are short stories of our alumni's careers:

Prof Johan van Zyl
Prof Johan van Zyl is definitely our Department’s most notable former student. He was originally an academic. During this time, he made many international contacts and did exceptionally well in his research. He moved through the University’s ranks fairly quickly and was first appointed Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Science and then became Principal of the University in 1997. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Sanlam. Prof van Zyl always says that agricultural economics opened many doors for him and offered him many opportunities. Today he holds one of the top positions in the South African business world.

Prof Andre Louw
“To be exposed to agriculture, as General Manager: Agribusiness, in my 19 years at ABSA, was an exceptional privilege. While there, I was exposed to strategic management, financial and risk management, as well as marketing and human resource management. I had the opportunity of combining theory with practice, of getting to know the farmers, agribusinesses and co-operatives of South Africa, and of making several overseas visits, among others to the USAGreat Britain,FranceBelgium, the NetherlandsJapan, countries in southern African, as well as Kenya. The networks and friendships that were built up over the years remain valuable and my exposure to the private sector was an enriching experience that put me in a position to give something back at various levels.”

Gerhard Coetzee – Manager of ECI International
Gerhard obtained his BSc (Agric) degree in Agricultural Economics and thereafter also his MSc and PhD. He therefore followed an academic and research route, but eventually worked in various operational capacities. He was first a researcher at the Development Bank of South Africa. He later served as a member on various project teams that did project management for agricultural development in disadvantaged areas. Afterwards he lectured at the University of Pretoria for four years, but, since 2001, he has been one of the managers of an international consulting company in Johannesburg. He focuses especially on the financing problems of underdeveloped areas. His experience with people in this field made it very clear to him that agricultural economists are the best employees. They think more holistically. He therefore only appoints people who have a qualification in agricultural economics.

Deon Scheepers – joint owner of a grain brokerage
Deon completed his BSc (Agric) in Agricultural Economics in 1998 and his honours degree in 2000. He has recently also completed his master’s degree. He first worked at Standard Bank where he was responsible for the lodging of price risk for the bank’s clients by making use of the SAFEX futures markets’ instruments. He recently established his own company, which manages the portfolios of various farmers and agribusinesses on the agricultural futures market.

Adele Brouwer, economist with the Department of Agriculture
Adele Brouwer completed her BSc (Agric) honours degree in Agricultural Economics at UP, and is currently employed by the Department of Agriculture in Pretoria, where she does economical analytical work for the Government on various aspects of the agricultural industry.