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FR Tomlinson 2023

Bongiswa Matoti Director, Agricultural Economic Services at the Western Cape Department of AgricultureHistoric moment as Bongiswa Matoti delivers AEASA Tomlinson Commemorative Lecture

The AEASA Tomlinson Commemorative Lecture, an annual event organised by the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), is renowned for its insightful discussions on pertinent topics within the agricultural and economic sectors. The event commemorates the late Prof F. R. Tomlinson and is awarded to a notable agricultural economist who significantly contributes to the discipline and association.

This year, in a groundbreaking event that marked a significant stride towards gender and racial inclusivity, Bongiswa Matoti (Western Cape Department of Agriculture and Past President of AEASA) became the second female and the first black female to present the prestigious AEASA Tomlinson Commemorative Lecture. The lecture, held on August 28, 2023, during Women’s Month in South Africa at Stellenbosch University, carried the theme “The Role of the Agricultural Economist in the Public Sector.”

Bongiswa’s lecture drew a diverse audience of agricultural economists, academics, public servants, policymakers, SU staff and students, and agricultural enthusiasts, all eager to witness this pivotal moment in both academia and social progress. Bongiswa, an accomplished agricultural economist with an impressive track record in public service, delivered a thought-provoking lecture that delved into the multifaceted responsibilities of agricultural economists in the public sector. She emphasised the pivotal role that these agricultural economists play in shaping policies that not only drive agricultural growth but also ensure equitable distribution of resources and opportunities across diverse demographics. Those familiar with Prof. Tomlinson’s work would agree that he would have been proud of the work that Bongiswa and her team do to continue to support rural development in South Africa.

As the applause echoed through the lecture hall, Bongiswa’s achievement shattered glass ceilings and inspired aspiring female agricultural economists to pursue their goals with determination and resilience.

AEASA would like to thank Stellenbosch University, particularly the Faculty of AgriScience’s Viticulture and Oenology Department, for the venue and the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) for financial support.