SAES Profile of the School

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The SAES is distinctively situated in Limpopo Province, which is historically rural, but with diverse biodiversity, natural resources and pockets of high agricultural potential. Agriculture, mining and tourism had been selected as the potential economic pillars in the province and these also contribute enormously to the gross domestic product of South Africa.

Rural communities in which the SAES is located are faced with low agricultural productivity because of, inter alia: erratic and low rainfall, climate change, unprecedented soil degradation and low fertility, lack of proper cropping systems, deforestation, overgrazing, lack of post-harvest facilities and access to fresh-produce markets, lack of technical skills in agriculture and related industries, intense competition for natural resources, suspension of selected pesticides, HIV/Aids epidemic, inaccessibility to agricultural production resources, lack of risk management capacity and unplanned land reform. These constraints are no different from those encountered in most countries in the SADC.

The consequences of these challenges are simply that there is a dire need for the School to be pro-active in providing solutions to both its immediate and distant communities by advancing training and research programmes which focus on improving the standard of living and food security through producing competent and entrepreneurial agricultural and environmental professionals through innovative teaching, research and community engagement. The latter requires resources, particularly infrastructural resources such as laboratory and office spaces which cannot be easily funded from external resources.

The SAES comprises three academic departments which offer different qualifications from undergraduate to doctoral studies. The School trains both undergraduate and post-graduate students through a quality research culture in Animal Nutrition, Animal Breeding, Aquaculture, Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Extension, Soil Science, Agronomy, Horticulture, Pasture Sciences, Plant Breeding, Entomology, Nematology, Plant Pathology, Geography and Environmental Resources Management. All of which are focused towards producing professionals with a capacity to craft relevant solutions to developmental problems in ways that are sustainable.

The school has collegial working relationship with key stakeholders, who include the Provincial and National Departments of Agriculture, District Municipalities, statutory agricultural research councils, commercial farmers and commodity associations. This places the school in a unique position in that it can directly contribute to the food security issues through skills development and research using multi-access approaches. Additionally, the multi-stakeholders contribute to the quality of our academic programmes through serving on quality-related advisory committees.

The SAES has an official research niche, titled “Technology management in relation to sustainable agriculture, food security and resource management in small, medium, micro and macro-agriculture”, and this is funded by the National Research Foundation”. The niche has raised substantial amounts of research funds both nationally and internationally.