State investment in agricultural economics in the spotlight

Government investment in agricultural economics in South Africa is declining after a few years of significant spending.

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"The concern is that we do not know what will happen beyond 2016, but we believe the picture will remain the same. We have to ask if agricultural economics is a priority area in terms of government spend," said Bongiswa Matoti, acting president of the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA) at the association’s conference in Parys, in the North West.

In 2005 real expenditure by government within agricultural economics programmes was R215 million. In 2008/2009 funds allocated to these programmes decreased significantly to R50 million.

"There is a serious need for government to relook its investment into agricultural economics because this will have long term implications for the sector and subject field," said Matoti.

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The number of agricultural economists working in the public sector is declining and decreasing investment could also deter young people with an interest in agricultural economics from entering the field, she added.