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  Study Agriculture & Forestry Sciences in South Africa

Faculty of Agriculture & Forestry Sciences

at Stellenbosch University South Africa


Ours is a unique faculty in the country, inter alia through our special knowledge partnerships with the very important agricultural and forestry industries. We are committed to train students and to conduct research for serving the industry. Our students all recognize the need to gain an understanding of the challenging applied sciences to eventually play the following roles in the world of employment:

Develop and manage new production and processing techniques;

  • Discover new and safer uses for agricultural and forestry products;

  • Manage natural resources in a sensitive and sustainable manner;

  • Add to economic stability and competitiveness; and

  • Improve the quality of life for the people in this country, especially in rural areas.

|You will discover that this well-established, world-class faculty has the following attributes:

  • Cutting edge research facilities for solving problems, which feed back as path-breaking knowledge into our academic training programmes;

  • A passion for implementing new knowledge - we let science work for the country and her people;

  • A mission to provide a one-stop service to industries, clients and students;

  • A national and international reputation of excellence with regard to our graduates, members of staff and research output - we are true leaders of the profession; and

  • The faculty offers students and clients the unique advantage of Stellenbosch with wide-ranging and unique supporting specialization and infrastructure.

We are the premier education, training and research centre for the important agricultural and forestry industries. There is no better way to start your career than by joining our faculty.

The Importance of the Faculty of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences

The provision of sufficient high-quality food and sufficient plant and animal fibre at affordable prices, as well as the creation of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, are some of the challenges facing the present-day agricultural and forestry industries. These opportunities and challenges are further influenced by the diversity of our country?s topography, soil varieties, variable climate, limited water resources and the stricter requirements that selective consumers are constantly setting for agricultural and forestry produce. South Africa boasts a large variety of animal and plant life that, while agricultural and forestry activities are being carried out, must be protected and conserved to ensure that our descendants will also be able to enjoy our natural resources. These are the challenges facing you, the future agricultural or forestry scientist.


In South Africa agriculture contributes almost 5% to the gross inland product, is an important earner of foreign exchange (R14,118 million in 1996), is a large employer (10% of formal job opportunities) and provides in basic human needs for food and fibre. Agro-tourism increasingly becomes more important as an industry and provides escape to many citizen dwellers. For every R1 million increase in the final demand for agricultural produce, 83 new job opportunities are created, compared to a corresponding figure of only 29 such opportunities in the remainder of the economy. It is generally acknowledged that agriculture plays an important role in poverty relief.

Soils with optimal physical and chemical conditions are scarce and occur locally, although there are various unique soil-climate associations that enable the provision of products for niche markets.

South Africa has a shortage of water. About 30% of South Africa receives less than 250 mm of rain per year, about 34% receives between 250 and 500 mm, 25% between500 and 750 mm and only 11% of the country has a rainfall of more than 750 mm per year. Rainfall for large parts of the country is uncertain and periodic droughts occur regularly. Because of these and other factors, South Africa is for its water supply largely dependent on reservoirs and subterranean water sources. Slightly more than 1,2 million ha is under irrigation. Presently agriculture is still the main user of water, about 50%, but there is increasing pressure on agriculture to relinquish more water for industrial and domestic use. Only 10% of agricultural land can be utilised without irrigation. The management of forestry plantations in water catchments areas has to follow strict guidelines. Water and irrigation management therefore requires particular expertise.

South Africa is thus pre-eminently an agricultural country. We can due to the varying climate and topography grow almost any crop. We are furthermore in the fortunate position to be presently self sufficient in most primary food and fibre requirements for the fast growing population of the country. Types of food in which the country at present is not self sufficient, but which are produced in considerable quantities, are wheat, oil seeds, rice, tea and coffee. More than 33% of the total value of horticultural production is exported. Of this, pome fruit makes up the largest volume. Other examples of South African exports are subtropical fruit, maize, sugar, vegetables, wine, cut flowers, flower bulbs, mohair and karakul pelts. 81% of agricultural land is under natural pasture, used mainly for extensive stock farming. This is almost 70% of the total land surface of South Africa. Stock farming includes farming with a variety of animals including cattle, pigs, small stock and poultry. Aquaculture is a strong upcoming industry with considerable potential.

Besides production of fresh produce, post harvest handling, product manufacture, food processing, storage and preservation are important post harvest value adding actions. The basis of the ultimate quality of the product enjoyed by the consumer is founded in the soil or herd. Careful and responsible pest and disease management is thus also required.



South Africa has beautiful indigenous forests. Some of the tree species produce timber, which compare with the best in the world. Unfortunately, the area of indigenous forests is limited and it was already many years ago necessary to plant tree species from other parts of the world. The demand for timber shows a steady increase. To fulfill in the need and to ensure adequate timber resources for the future, the production from the current 1,3 million ha afforested area needs to be expanded by new afforestation or by increasing the current production level from existing plantations.

When trees reach maturity, the timber needs to be harvested. This facet of the forestry industry is very complicated, especially in instances where plantations are planted on steep mountain slopes. The road systems need to be planned in detail and the harvesting equipment needs to be acquired and used efficiently.

The processing of the timber is the next step in the value chain. It can either be done at a sawmill where it is sawn, seasoned and graded, ready to be used as building or furniture timber, send to a paper mill or processed into chips or fiber.

Forests do not only fulfill in our timber needs. It also provides outdoor recreational facilities. The need for forests and parks are becoming increasingly important, especially with the current population growth. The majority of forestry areas are accessible to the public. The wider field of conservation ecology addresses this aspect, for example the conservation of the fauna and flora and the management of the natural environment for its esthetical and scientific importance. Trees also play an important role in rural and urban areas for the production of firewood, bark, medicine and ornaments, thereby enhancing the general quality of life.

Seen against the above background, it is thus obvious that particular knowledge, skills and management expertise is required for sustainable agricultural and forestry production. Our wide array of teaching programmes thus cover all aspects of natural resource management, plant and animal production, post harvest operations and economic management, from the basic science, through to the practice and business of the respective value chains of agriculture and of forestry.

Graduates in agriculture and forestry can follow a variety of professions dealing with aspects of production, conservation, processing and marketing of both plant and animal study fields. There are, for example, careers in research, teaching, consultation, extension, farm management, environmental management and installation management (cellars, food factories and sawmills). Professions and careers such as these are not only practised in agricultural and forestry concerns, but also in associated industries, commercial enterprises and government departments. Graduates of this Faculty enjoy high regard in the international labour market.
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Prof Leopoldt van Huyssteen

Room 1026

JS Marais Building

Victoria Street



+27 (0) 21 8084737


+27 (0) 21 8082001


Postal address:


Faculty of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences

University of Stellenbosch

Private Bag X1 7602