6 careers to look out for in SA agricultural sector

Updated: May 1

By Gaby Ndongo


With climate change being the topic of the dinner table, a number of people are coming to terms with the need for a greener planet. This means more opportunities for agricultural sector.


Research shows that one-eighth of South Africa (SA) is cultivated but the country is self-sufficient because it produces major agricultural products such as sugar, meat and cotton, according to SA Career Guide.


The same kind of agricultural production, the Guide goes on to explain, finds its way in SA’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), contributing 2.6% on an annual basis and nearly 9% to the number of employed people.


So, it is worth it to look at what the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries suggested as in-demand careers. They include agricultural veterinarians, agricultural engineering, agricultural economics and agricultural statisticians, writes the Guide.


In this article, we take a look at most of them.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels.

Agricultural economist


Agricultural economists help farmers make the best choices in relation to their financial planning. This is done while considering the impact of the weather patterns where the farm is situated and the states of the local and global economy.


High school subjects

  • Pure Maths

  • Physical science

  • Life science

Qualification(s) & institution(s)

  • BSc Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University or University of Kwa-Zulu Natal

  • BCom Agricultural Economic at University of Free State or University of Pretoria

Photo by John Lambeth from Pexels.

Agribusiness manager


The person holds the power of overseeing the day-to-day operation of an agricultural business, such as a commercial farm, to help the entity reach its growth within a regulated environment.


High school subjects

  • Pure Maths

  • Physical science

  • Life science

Qualification(s) & institution(s)

  • BAgribusiness Management at the University of Limpopo

  • BCom Agribusiness Management at the University of Pretoria

  • BSc Land Management at the University of Limpopo

  • BCom Agricultural Economics at the University of Limpopo

  • B Tech Agricultural Management at the Tshwane University of Technology, Nelson Mandela Municipal University, University of South Africa and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels Stock Images.

Viticulturist/Oenologist (winemaker)


With an in-depth knowledge of plants, viticulturist/oenologist know the correct methods of ensuring that vines, for example, produce the different kinds of wines in the needed quantity.

They are also able to do the packaging of wine, conduct quality assessment and management.


High school subjects

  • Pure Maths

  • Physical science

  • Life science

Qualification(s) & institution(s)

  • BSc Vuiticulture/Oenology at Stellenbosch University

Photo by John Lambeth from Pexels.

Agricultural technician


One can find agricultural technicians doing several tasks. They are involved in “food, fiber, and animal research, production, and processing. “Some conduct tests and experiments to improve the yield and quality of crops or to increase the resistance of plants and animals to disease, insects, or other hazards,” according to Science Buddies.


High school subjects

  • Pure Maths

  • Physical science

  • Life science

Qualification(s) & institution(s)

  • BSc Agric Animal Production at the University of Limpopo

  • BSc Agricultural Crop Production at Stellenbosch University

  • BSc Agric Plant Production at the University of Limpopo or Fort Hare University

  • BSc Agric Soil Science at Fort Hare University

Image by Couleur from Pixabay.

Agricultural engineer


On the other hand, an agricultural engineer helps in the farming process by applying engineering skills and principles such as innovation and logic to bring solution to agricultural problems.

Due to the application of these skills and principles, the engineer can be found doing research or consulting in different sectors: forestry sector, water management, food processing industry.

It is an “area of engineering concerned with the design, construction and improvement of farming equipment and machinery. Agricultural engineers integrate technology with farming,” according to Environmental Science.


High school subjects

  • Pure Maths

  • Physical science

  • Life science

Qualification(s) & institution(s)

  • Bsc Agricultural Engineering at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay.

Veterinary scientist


Veterinarians contribute in the prevention, treatment and spread of diseases amongst (farm as well as domestic) animals and from animals to humans. They further certify the disease status of animals and the safety of products for both the local and international markets.


According to SA Career Guide, veterinary have a starting salary of R13 000 per month, with potential employees ranging from government institutions, research organisations and livestock producer organisations.


Streams of employment to follow include research, state veterinarian, public health and private veterinarian.


Private veterinarian

Services to pet owners, farmers and breeders of dogs, cats, sheep, and many others are provided by private veterinarians. At times, animal welfare organisations, game reserve and zoos serve as employers of private veterinarians.


Public health

In public health, a veterinarian responsibilities include ensuring meat and milk hygiene in abattoirs (slaughterhouse), milk processing plants and the control of diseases from animals to humans.


State veterinarian

Veterinarian in this area perform duties in relation to food safety and security, import as well as the export of animal products.


They also occupy regulatory positions that oversee diagnosis, surveillance, monitoring, control, prevention and eradication of notifiable diseases.


Research

Areas of research include veterinary, agriculture and bio-medical. These areas tackle product development, animal improvement and monitoring the utilisation of animals for experimental purposes.


High school subjects

  • Two languages, one of them English (4 points)

  • Pure Maths (4 points)

  • Physical science (4 points)

  • Life science (4 points)

  • Two other subjects (3 points)

Qualification(s) & institution(s)

  • Bachelor of Science degree in Veterinary

  • A 7 years programme (3 years BSc in Veterinary Biology and then 4 years for a professional veterinary degree).

Writing by Gaby Ndongo. Feature image by Maarten van den Heuvel from Pexels. Gaby Ndongo is the editor of The Open Journal.

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