UFH Alumnus plays big on International Agricultural Stage
A 32-year-old University of Fort Hare (UFH) alumnus said growing up in the rural village of Ndabakazi in Butterworth he never imagined that he would one day become an international researcher.
Destiny, on the other hand, had bigger plans in store for Dr. Siphe Zantsi who is now an agricultural economist at the government of Switzerland’s federal research institute for the agri-food sector.
His journey began at the University of Fort Hare, and he recently shared his inspirational story with Food For Mzansi Digital News.
“I’m from a small village in Butterworth and that’s where I grew I had been farming with my family in a small farm setting at home since I was 15 years old and always wanted to pursue a career in agriculture, but I never thought I would go beyond my bachelor’s degree.
“My plan was always to graduate and find a job at the Department of Agriculture, Land reform and rural development and buy livestock,” he recalled during the interview.
In 2008, Dr Siphe Zantsi enrolled for a BSc in Agricultural Economics and Livestock production at the University of Fort Hare, and on completion enrolled for his Honours at the university. Earlier this year, he graduated with a PhD from the Stellenbosch University.
He is now an agricultural economist with a Swiss institute, Agroscope. The Swiss Confederation’s centre of excellence for agricultural research is affiliated with the Federal Office for Agriculture, which in turn is subordinate to the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research in Switzerland.
It makes an important contribution to a sustainable agriculture and food sector as well as to an intact environment, thereby contributing to an improved quality of life. Its aims are a competitive and multifunctional agricultural sector, high-quality food for a healthy diet, and an intact environment.
Dr Zantsi started working with the centre in 2017 while doing his PhD thesis, and two years later he officially joined the centre as a staff member.
According to Food For Mzansi, Dr Zantsi ‘s PHD developed a new method-agent based modelling to find better solutions for implementing land reform. Through his research, he identified five main reasons why land distribution in South Africa has failed in the past. These included inadequate support services to new entrants into farming, poor beneficiary selection, handing over of commercial farms to large for new entrants to manage, lack of farming skills, and the lack of government to provide farmers with freehold titles.
Dr Zantsi’ journey which started at UFH is certainly an inspirational one.