Policy Forum | Agricultural Innovation in South Africa

Join this policy forum to explore new sources of evidence to strengthen agricultural innovation in South Africa. Engage with speakers playing key roles in the sectoral system, including in industry associations, universities, businesses, government, and the media.

Why this policy forum, now

The South African White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (2019) places the modernisation and strengthening of agriculture firmly on South African’s innovation agenda. Vital to food and job security, skills enhancement, and increased competitiveness across local and global markets, the case for strengthening agricultural innovation is compelling and urgent. Agricultural actors—such as producers (smallholder to large-scale farmers, loggers, and fishers), formal agribusinesses (small, medium, and large), industry associations, financial institutions, and policy actors—face diverse challenges. These include: addressing climate change; improving production, processing and market efficiency; ensuring product and facility certification and compliance; and enhancing absorptive capacity for new and emerging technologies, including 4IR. How, then, can the innovation policy agenda be advanced to strategically enable actors to address these and future challenges, and to provide adequate and timely responses that build resilience in this sector?

The evidence provided by South Africa’s first national Agricultural Business Innovation Survey, alongside, for example, the Statistics South Africa Census of Commercial Agriculture, represent key recent empirical contributions to ongoing policy discussions. Using the available data as one of the tools, this policy forum aims to address questions in agricultural innovation from the perspectives of three sub-sectors—farming, forestry, and fisheries, including the actors impacted—and explore routes to address a series of key questions.

Key questions

  • Do existing science, technology and innovation (STI) policy instruments support innovation activity in South African agribusinesses as effectively as they could? Are there types of innovation that do not occur on a wide enough scale, or are ‘below the radar’, that we should promote systematically? What are the different strategies required to promote the distinctive patterns of innovation in different agricultural sub-sectors?
  • In different agricultural sub-sectors, do we need specific funding instruments for R&D-led innovation, technological upgrading, and organisation or non-technological innovation to transform the agricultural, food and nutrition system in a more targeted manner? How can DSI coordinate and align its policy, strategies and interventions with other stakeholders in the agricultural system of innovation, including related government departments, science councils and universities, financial institutions, and industry associations, to address the barriers and constraints?

Zoom link for registration


*Programme Facilitator: Kgomotso Matjila, Acting Chief Director: Science and Technology Investment, Department of Science and Innovation

09h30 | Welcoming remarks

  • Ben Durham, Chief Director: Bio-Innovation, Department of Science and Innovation

09h40 | Keynote address: ‘Innovation and resilience in global agri-food and nutrition systems’

  • Judith-Ann Francis, Independent International Strategic and Policy Advisor on Innovation in Agri-food and Nutrition Systems

10h00 | Scene-setting presentation: Innovation in South African agribusinesses: New empirical evidence

  • Dr Glenda Kruss, Executive Head, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council

10h40 | Research Panel: ‘Directions for policy from the evidence’

Moderator: Prof. John Ouma-Mugabe, Professor of Science and Innovation Policy at the Graduate School of Technology Management, University of Pretoria

  • Dr Albert Strever, Agri-Informatics Expert, Stellenbosch University
  • Dr Marinda Visser, Director: Strategic Projects & Planning: Agriculture, Innovation Africa @ UP Initiative
  • Dr McLean Sibanda, IP & Innovation Expert & Managing Director, Bigen Global Ltd.

11h30 | Finance and Business Panel: ‘Directions for policy and investment from ground level’

Moderator: Dr Mlungisi Cele, Acting CEO: National Advisory Council on Innovation

  • Dr John Purchase, CEO, Agricultural Business Chamber (agbiz)
  • Dr Simphiwe Ngqangweni, CEO, National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC)
  • Denene Erasmus, Editor, Farmer’s Weekly
  • Mmabatho Portia Morudi, Farmer & Entrepreneur, II iju Bee Farms and co-founder of The Village Market Africa

12h30 | Policy Panel: ‘Strengthening the agricultural innovation system – the policy response’ 

Moderator: Dr Maneshree Jugmohan-Naidu, Director: Biotechnology, Department of Science and Innovation

  • Sibongiseni Ndimande, Director: Research and Policy Analysis, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
  • Sibonelo Mbanjwa, Director: Climate Change Adaptation-Natural Resources, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment
  • Sibusiso Manana, Head: Agriculture Strategic Technology Area, Technology Innovation Agency

13h20 | Closing remarks

  • Dr Petronella Chaminuka, Principal Economist and Senior Manager: Economic Analysis Unit, Agricultural Research Council

For more information or to contact the organisers please write to:

Seminar | Strengthening innovation measurement practice in firm-level surveys

Join survey practitioners, scholars of innovation indicators, and users of innovation data for policy making or programming to learn more about current methodological imperatives shaping innovation measurement. 

Why this seminar, now

Business innovation surveys are commonly used by both state and non-state actors to understand firm dynamics and to generate evidence in support of economic and innovation policy mixes. Where business innovation surveys follow the subject-based approach (OECD, 2018), as is predominantly the case, representative information on both the scale and types of innovation at firm-level as well as the drivers of and barriers to innovation, can be produced and analysed. Recent analysis, however, points to substantial measurement error risks in firm-level innovation surveys (Cirera & Muzi, 2020; Arundel et al, 2013). With a focus on recent empirical work using World Bank (WB) Enterprise Survey data, as well as a recent WB technology adoption survey, this seminar will delve into the issue of innovation measurement error, as well as key methodological imperatives that performers of firm-level innovation surveys can consider in improving survey performance. Discussant reflections will incorporate the experiences from South African Business Innovation Surveys, performed by the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII), since the early 2000s.

Download invitation and agenda
Zoom link for registration


15h00 | Welcome remarks

  • Kgomotso Matjila-Matlapeng, Senior Policy Analyst, Department of Science and Innovation
  • Michael Ehst, Senior Private Sector Specialist, World Bank

15h10 | Introduction by seminar moderator

  • Dr Glenda Kruss, Executive Head: Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council

15h20 | Measuring innovation using firm-level surveys:
Presentation of new evidence from developing countries

  • Dr Xavier Cirera, Firms, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit, World Bank
  • Dr Silvia Muzi, Enterprise Analysis Unit, World Bank

15h50 | Experiences from two decades of South African Business Innovation Surveys, 2002-present: Reflections from practice

  • Dr Moses Sithole, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council
  • Dr Amy Kahn, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council

16h20 | Open dialogue

16h50 | Concluding remarks

  • Prof. Fred Gault, UNU-MERIT/Tshwane University of Technology & Chair: CeSTII Advisory Committee

We are pleased to invite you join this HSRC Seminar Series event, which is arranged with support from the South African Department of Science and Innovation and in collaboration with the World Bank.

For more information or to contact the organisers please write to gralphs[at]hsrc.ac.za.


Xavier Cirera, Silvia Muzi, Measuring innovation using firm-level surveys: Evidence from developing countries, Research Policy, Volume 49, Issue 3,
2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2019.103912

Anthony Arundel, Kieran O’Brien and Ann Torugsa, How firm managers understand innovation: Implications for the design of innovation surveys, in Fred Gault (ed.), Handbook of Innovation Indicators and Measurement, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Oslo Manual 2018
Guidelines for Collecting, Reporting and Using Data on Innovation, 4th Edition 

Acknowledgement and disclaimer: This seminar is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DSI. Please also note that this seminar may be recorded and published on the HSRC podcast channel.