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Researcher brings global touch to agriculture training

A senior researcher at the Free State University now uses her global work experience to bring change in the lives of agricultural students.

Dr Hlamalani Ngwenya is a Free State social scientist and global citizen. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Dr Hlamalani Ngwenya, a Free State social scientist, is transforming many aspects of human capital management in the country’s vibrant agricultural community.

A lecturer in the department of sustainable food systems and development at the University of the Free State, Ngwenya boasts more than 30 years of professional experience in human capital management.

She has worked in more than 50 countries. Today, she is using her global work experience to bring change in the lives of agricultural students, teaching an advanced diploma in sustainability at the university. Also, she supervises on the Master’s programme on sustainable agriculture and extension. 

Economies and human capital 

Recently, Ngwenya was part of a global study, Investing in farmers: agriculture human capital investment strategies. The research was conducted in nine countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Furthermore, the study also provided lessons learned from successful models around the world, with recommendations and guidelines for future investment that enhances the human capital of agricultural producers.

Ngwenya says, “One of the most valuable lessons I have learnt through engaging in many African countries, is that there is not necessarily co-relation between a country’s strong economy and human capital. Despite the socio-political challenges that many countries go through [including ours], there are many genuine, hard-working, and intelligent people out there,” she adds.

The study was done in partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

In addition, Ngwenya contributed a chapter on food and agriculture in the United Nations Development Programme report on Covid-19 rapid emergency needs assessment for the most vulnerable groups. 

Global work with local relevance 

On the African continent, Ngwenya has been an inspiration to the African Forum For Agricultural Advisory Services and also supported the development of agricultural extension and advisory services at regional and national levels. 

Beyond her active involvement in the agricultural extension field, Ngwenya is a role player in other areas of agriculture. This includes agricultural policy, agricultural research, as well as agricultural education.

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DUNCAN MASIWA is a budding journalist with a passion for telling great agricultural stories. He hails from Macassar, close to Somerset West in the Western Cape, where he first started writing for the Helderberg Gazette community newspaper. Besides making a name for himself as a columnist, he is also an avid poet who has shared stages with artists like Mahalia Buchanan, Charisma Hanekam, Jesse Jordan and Motlatsi Mofatse.
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