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May 2021 2nd edition

Passionate about small-scale farming

Written by More Matshediso

Vaccinating livestock is important to prevent animals from being infected with deadly diseases and to sustain productivity.

This is according to Mampe Masemola (32), an agricultural economist at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). 

Rural farming households use livestock for different purposes, such as a source of income, food, insurance or savings and social status. However, the productivity of these animals is threatened by the presence of deadly diseases. Farmers need to vaccinate their livestock,” says Masemola. 

Vaccinations, she adds, will ensure farmers keep healthy herds and continue to benefit from livestock keeping.Mampe Masemola is an agricultural economist who is passionate about assisting small-scale farmers.

Helping smallholder farmers thrive

Masemola says she is passionate about participating in research and development initiatives that help smallholder farmers succeed. 

Her work at the ARC plays a role in influencing policy, encouraging increased production and the adoption of agricultural technologies to improve the sector. 

Masemola holds a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of the Free State. 

As part of her master’s degree, Masemola conducted research on smallholder farmers’ willingness to pay for livestock vaccines.

Her research focused on how to achieve acceptance and widespread use of livestock vaccines, such as those for lumpy skin disease and Rift Valley fever. 

“My research on farmers’ willingness to pay for veterinary vaccines was one of a kind in South African literature and created a niche focus area that local agricultural economists can now boldly explore,” she says.

In October last year, she was awarded the 2019/2020 best Master’s Research award by the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa.

Masemola’s job as a research assistant and PhD candidate entails conducting research to improve the agricultural sector. 

How to become an agricultural economist?

If you are a young person and have an interest in becoming an agricultural economist, Masemola has a few tips for you:

  • Most universities require a minimum of 60% in mathematics, english and physical sciences.
  • Learners should achieve outstanding results so they can be accepted into university. 
  • You need to have an interest in agriculture, develop good social skills to interact well with people, especially farmers of all ages ; and be willing to study, persevere and be mentored.