The profession of Agricultural Economics was born out of the attempts of early pioneers in the United States to address two fundamental questions, namely (1) “What is the (reciprocal) relationship between the agricultural sector and the rest of the economy?” and (2) “How can farms be managed more efficiently?”
The Department of Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University was the first such Department in South Africa, and was established in 1925, with Prof JFW Grosskopf as first Chair. The first BSc graduates followed in 1926 and the first Masters graduates in 1930. So far, the Department has graduated almost 2000 students with a Bachelor's degree, and some 400 with a postgraduate degree. Apart from Prof Grosskopf, Department Chairs have included SP van Wyk, Eckart Kassier, Jerry Eckert and Nick Vink.
Agriculture is the biggest source of production and employment in rural areas, and it is the key to a successful economy. Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University focusses on the management of these processes at farm, provincial, national and international level. It incorporates the study of natural resources, agribusiness, the processing and marketing of agricultural products as well as the analysis of a range of macro-economic factors from politics to institutions to economic policy.