Grain SA junior agricultural economist Ikageng Maluleke’s advice to Mzansi’s youth is to “never allow yourself to be a prisoner of the environment in which you first find yourself”.
As a black, female, agricultural economist, Maluleka never wavered in going against the tide to achieve her goals. She believes opportunities within the agricultural sector are endless and are definitely not limited to the farm. Her passion for numbers and farming steered her onto this career path and her potential within the sector is limitless.
1Sum up your job:
As an agricultural economist, I specialize in understanding the economic activity within agricultural markets. I research statistics and data pertaining to the agricultural industry and project possible patterns and trends within the economy.
2So, what does the day-to-day of your job entail?
The work that I do involves the following:
International trade: Representing the grain industry at the agricultural trade forum, ensuring that trade agreements benefit primary producers as well.
Farmer development and marketing: Assist new era farmers to transition into the commercial space through various programs. Working with government initiatives to make sure that upcoming grain farmers benefit from government programs. Assisting farmers with production budgets for different commodities each season.
Market research: Maintain market research and production input database and relevant web information. Conduct market research analysis on grain and oilseeds in order to advise management on economic grain and oilseeds. Presentations to working groups and meetings and market research presentations to relevant stakeholders.
Advisory: Writing articles, newsletters and contributions to different media sources for publication. Compile and analyse comprehensive grain economic or market reports and production input. Making projections and forecasts and interpreting the findings, for example supply and demand tables on grains.
Information sharing: Engage and liaise with relevant stakeholders in the grain industry/agriculture on agricultural policies.
Enquiries: Ensure service delivery through the handling of enquiries from the public, financial institutions, research institutions, government officials, management, Grain SA members, etc.
What qualification do you need for this career?
Entry level is a BSc or BCom in Agricultural Economics, however having an MSc in Agricultural Economics gives you an added advantage.
4What are the character traits you need to be great at your job?
An interest in agriculture and the natural environment; interest in economics; high mathematical, analytical and scientific capacity; creative, thorough and analytical; problem-solving abilities; good communication; research and organisational skills.
5Have you always worked in the agriculture sector?
6What do you love about agriculture as a space to work in?
Agriculture has the ability to bring people together and make people’s livelihoods better, especially the poor. Knowing that I play a role towards making our country food secure truly makes me happy.
7Don’t be modest, tell us about your proudest career moments?
I have had so many proud moments since I started my career, but getting the opportunity to travel the world has to be the biggest highlight of all time. The most recent is making the National Agricultural Marketing Council’s list of top five influential youth agriculturalists in 2019.
8What do you do when you’re not at work?
I love hiking, traveling to new places and spending time with family
9Any advice for young people who are inspired by your career story?Never allow yourself to be a prisoner of the environment in which you first find yourself. The world is your oyster; do not be afraid to dream big and to follow your dreams. With agriculture rapidly evolving, the farm remains a big part of the value chain, however agriculture is quite diverse and the opportunities along the value chain are endless. In choosing a career, it is imperative to understand the challenges within that field to see how you can contribute.