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Photo of Johann Kirsten

Johann Kirsten

Head of Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development, University of Pretoria

South Africa

What most impressed the professional colleagues who nominated this role model?

Johann Kirsten is one of most prominent and highly cited agricultural economists in Africa.  He has devoted his career to building high-quality, highly relevant academic research and training programs in Africa.  At the University of Pretoria, he has grown the Department of Agricultural Economics into a regional leader and an internationally recognized department.  Under his leadership, the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Pretoria serves as the backbone and host of the shared facility where the elective and specialized courses of the Collaborative Masters in Applied and Agricultural Economics, (or CMAAE) are taught.   

Despite extraordinary pressures on his time, he has worked tirelessly and selflessly to support his students and to link South Africa’s many intellectual and technological advances to a broader pan-African economic framework.  His exemplary work and dedication illustrate how a single individual can make a difference in an institution’s vitality and in the lives of the many professionals he has influenced across the continent. 

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • I always had an interest in agriculture and farming.
  • I spent most of my school holidays on a farm.

How can agricultural education institutions more effectively prepare African students for successful agribusiness careers? 

  • Industries must get involved.
  • Ensure that there are facilities for practical work at the AET institutions.
  • Integration among different departments is essential.
  • The gap in knowledge between grade 12 scholars and first year at university is still a serious problem.

Career highlights

  • Professor and Head of Department: University of Pretoria
  • Agricultural Economist: Department of Agriculture – Directorate Marketing
  • Agricultural Attaché: South African Embassy London, England: 21/11/1989 – 31/01/1992.

Educational background

  • Primary school:
    • Jan van Riebeeck, Cape Town South Africa             
  • Secondary school:     
    • Jan van Riebeeck, Cape Town South Africa
  • University:     
    • BSc Agric: Agricultural Economics, University of Stellenbosch: 1983.
    • BSc Agric Hons: Economics/Agricultural Economics, University of Stellenbosch: 1985.
    • MSc Agric: Agricultural Economics, University of Pretoria: 1989.
    • PhD Agricultural Economics, University of Pretoria: 1994.