Advocating for Smallholder Agriculture Development: Profiling Dr Yolisa Pakela-Jezile

Dr Yolisa Pakela-Jezile

As part of the activities related to the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme, SANBio is profiling female bioscientists and bioentrepreneurs working in the innovation space.

Dr Yolisa Pakela-Jezile is a Senior Manager at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), and she is responsible for Smallholder Agricultural Development. She is a former teacher and holds a PhD in Botany from the University of Pretoria.

Dr Pakela-Jezile packages Research and Development outputs in the form of capacity building skills programmes, information and scientific services for different clients in the agricultural sector, particularly smallholder farmers. Her role contributes to ensuring that R&D output is communicated appropriately so that farmers are able to make calculated decisions, mitigate risks and increase income through increased productivity.

Dr Pakela-Jezile lobbies and advocates for strong ties between R&D, Extension & Rural Advisory Services and thus positive changes in the Agricultural Extension and Education sector in the region.

Having coordinated different agricultural and training programmes, she is currently working on various initiatives to increase productivity and incomes of smallholder communal farmers in rural areas in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo on improving animal health and marketability of their livestock.  The programmes involve establishment and renewal of dip-tank facilities, crushpens and auction kraals. The infrastructure development is coupled with specialized skills training programmes for extension support and farmers. These include animal health, business management skills, sourcing markets and product management.

One of the highlights of these initiatives has been the performance of an auction facility in Ndawana, Mzimkhulu, where farmers increased the number of animals sent for auction and thus improved their income over a 3-year period from 2014 to 2016. So far R3.5 million in income has been received by farmers in Ndawana through sales of 300 head of cattle selling at an average of R12 700 per animal.

The positive effect of science-based interventions such as the ones Dr Pakela-Jezile is working on is clear and significant.