Front from left: Mr Stanley Sharangua, Ms Grany
Senyolo, and Dr Edilegnaw Wale. Back from left:
Dr Lloyd Baiyegunhi, Professor Gerald Ortmann,
Mr Binganidzo Muchara and Mr Garreth Sparks

UKZN academic staff and postgraduate students walked off with the lion’s share of awards at the recent national Conference of the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA) in Bloemfontein.

Mr Garreth Sparks, who graduated summa cum laude with an MScAgric (Agricultural Economics) degree in April 2011, Professor Gerald Ortmann and Professor Mike Lyne won the prize for the Best Paper published in Agrekon – the official ISI-accredited journal of AEASA – in 2011/12 for a paper titled: “A normative economic analysis of co-operative biodiesel production using soybeans produced by smallholders in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa”.

Sparks, Ortmann and Mr Louis Lagrange, formerly a Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Engineering at UKZN, won the Protein Research Trust Best Scientific Article award for 2011/12 for their paper titled: “An economic evaluation of soybean based biodiesel production on commercial farms in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa”. It was published in Agrekon Vol 50(3) in September, 2011.

Senior Lecturer Dr Edilegnaw Wale won the prize for the best article published in a scientific journal other than Agrekon for his paper titled: “Explaining farmers’ decisions to abandon traditional varieties of crops: empirical results from Ethiopia and implications for on-farm conservation”. This paper was published in the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture (2012).

Lecturer Ms Grany Senyolo was awarded a South African Agricultural Economics Professional Fellowship, which is administered by the National Agricultural Marketing Council and AEASA. The Fellowship provides support and networking opportunities for South Africa’s young agricultural professionals working in the areas of land reform, agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, and marketing.

This award will enable Senyolo and two other young researchers to visit well-known American institutions, including Cornell University, USDA or other US government agency research facilities, the World Bank, Tuskegee University, not-for-profit institutions and international research centres, for two weeks in December.

Senyolo presented a poster titled: “Examining the household purchasing decision of underutilized leafy vegetables (ULVs) in Limpopo province, South Africa”.

Ms Michelle Browne, who graduated in April with an MScAgric (Agricultural Economics) degree cum laude, shared first prize with a student from the University of Pretoria for the 2011/2012 AEASA Best Masters Thesis award. Her thesis is titled: “Measuring household resilience in developing countries: evidence from six African countries”. Browne was supervised by Ortmann and co-supervised by Professor Sheryl Hendriks of the University of Pretoria.

Lecturer Dr Lloyd Baiyegunhi and postgraduate students Mr Stanley Sharangua, Mr Binganidzo Muchara and Mr Royal Mabe also presented papers at the Conference.

Ortmann presented a paper by Akankwasa et al. The titles of the papers presented and the authors were:

“Social capital and household poverty in rural KwaZulu-Natal”, by L Baiyegunhi; “Smallholder maize value chain in the Eastern Cape: constraints and opportunities for chain development”, by M Muchara, GF Ortmann, E Wale & B Letty; “The values rural households attach to forest products and services: the case of three communities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa”, by S Sharaunga, M Mudhara and E Wale; “Mentee and mentor competencies for forming and sustaining mentorship: perspectives from the South African sugar industry”, by R Mabe, E Wale & SRD Ferrer; “The effect of banana cooking qualities and other consumption characteristics on consumers’ intentions to purchase East African Highland Banana hybrids in Uganda”, by K Akankwasa, GF Ortmann, E Wale & WK Tushemereirwe.