School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Dr Lelethu Mdoda (third from left) speaking at the 13th AFMA Congress where he was elected Chairperson of the Association.

Young Academic Leads African Farm Management Association

Dr Lelethu Mdoda, a senior lecturer in agricultural economics at the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), has been elected president of the African Farm Management Association (AFMA) for two years, the youngest president in the association’s history.

Mdoda’s appointment was announced at the 13th AFMA Congress in East London in the Eastern Cape. Mdoda chaired the protocol and programme sub-committee within the local organising committee that included Mr Denver Naidoo, Ms Nthabeleng Tamako, and Ms Raesetse Baloyi from the disciplines of food security from agricultural economics at UKZN.

‘I am truly privileged to lead such a dynamic and influential organisation,’ said Mdoda.

The four-day congress included presentations from multiple disciplines on farm management research, farmer and industry presentations, and farm visits to see farm management techniques in action. The Eastern Cape MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Ms Nonkqubela Pieters officially opened the congress, emphasising the importance of African solutions to African problems.

The AFMA is an association for agribusiness and farm management professionals and practitioners. It is an African network of farmers, farm managers, entrepreneurs, agricultural economists, and other scientists working towards improving African agriculture.

The AFMA is related to the International Farm Management Association (IFMA) and hosts its congresses in alternate years to the IFMA, which will meet in Canada in 2024 while AFMA prepares to meet again in Rwanda in 2025.

The 2023 congress was attended by industry partners and farmers, with attendees becoming AFMA members for two years. The association aims to take farm management theory into practice and focuses on applied farmer and agricultural development. Much learning occurs in the field during the congress and other association activities.

‘AFMA is playing an important role in African agriculture, and we expect it to grow exponentially in the next two years as we get more young people involved,’ said Mdoda.

Mdoda joined UKZN in 2020 after working as a contract lecturer and postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Fort Hare (UFH). Originally from Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape, he completed his Bachelor and Master of Science in Agriculture in agricultural economics and his PhD at UFH. He focuses his research on resource and environmental economics, agribusiness, urban agriculture and technology transfer, food safety and security, the economies of smallholder farmers, farm management, climate change and vulnerability, agricultural policy, agricultural marketing and production, agro-processing and value chains, rural development and sustainability, and the economics of indigenous crops.