College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences

Urgent need to understand climate change

Prof Michael Antwi from the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) is a recipient of the 2019 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research, presented at Unisa’s 2020 Research & Innovation Awards. Sharing his jubilation about the award, Antwi says he feels delighted and overwhelmed. "It is a validation, acknowledgment and justification of the hard work that I have put into my research over the years. Receiving a very prestigious award like this brings more benefits than just winning. Aside from making me feel good, it can also offer a great boost to my research, the research of the Agriculture and Animal Health Department, and to CAES," he explains.

Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor) and HE Thabo Mbeki (Chancellor of Unisa) congratulate Prof Michael Antwi (CAES) (centre) on his 2019 Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Research.

He adds that the award has also brought credibility and may open doors to new opportunities. Winning of the award demonstrates that Antwi takes pride in what he does; this, he explains "will impress potential postgraduate students/clients and improve future intake and research funding for the Agriculture and Animal Health Department. It is my wish that perhaps this award will inspire colleagues to meet or exceed that standard next year. As the saying goes, 'A rising tide lifts all boats'," says Antwi.

His research focus is on agricultural production, marketing, project/programme analysis/impact assessment and land reform, food security, international trade (competitiveness) and climate change. His primary research objective is to identify relevant gaps in the field of agriculture in South Africa and Africa as a whole, specifically within the agricultural economics context. This is followed by undertaking quality research with rigour for reliable results, conclusions and recommendations providing a basis for informed policy decisions and contributing to the body of knowledge in the field.

Prof Michael Antwi (College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, CAES), recipient of the 2019 Unisa Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research, says that farming communities need to realise the dangers that climate variability poses, now and in the future.

Recently, however, Antwi’s focus has been on climate change research. He explains that there is an urgent need for communities on a global scale to understand the concept of climate change, the dangers of climate change and the necessary measures to reduce the impact. "Farming communities need to understand the dangers that climate change has and will have in the future. The expected output of the objective includes, among others, increasing the number of publications in locally and internationally accredited journals and quality MSc & PhD graduates in the Agricultural Economics discipline," he emphasises.

Asked what motivates his research, Antwi explains: "Research in the agricultural economics field inspires me greatly because it is more exciting, very important, contributes to knowledge generation, and provides a reliable basis for policy decisions for sustainable and profitable agricultural development of most countries in the world." He says this is a field of choice because agriculture plays a major role in the development of most economies in terms of supply of food, fibre, employment, provision of skilled personnel for other sectors of the economy, GDP and foreign exchange earnings. Also, several agricultural economists have been at the forefront of empirical research on development economics, contributing to the understanding of agriculture's role in economic development and economic growth.

Antwi is a researcher par excellence and the proof is in just some of his research highlights and achievements:

  • CAES Calabash Excellence Award in 2016, an acknowledgement of excellence in research
  • Unisa Chancellor’s Prize for Excellence in Research, 2019
  • Department of Small Business Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) Funding (current) for Research and Farmer Training (R1.905 million)
  • Land Bank Research Chair, Agricultural Economics and Extension Department, North-West University, Mafikeng

* By Tshimangadzo Mphaphuli, Senior Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2020/06/30