Five questions with research guru Dr Ilse Trautmann

by | Feb 28, 2022 | Article

Veteran plant scientist and research director Dr Ilse Trautmann has recently taken on a brand new position at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA), were she had served as Chief Director of Research & Technology Development since 2011. We asked her about her new role and the challenges ahead.


Dr Ilse Trautmann Ph.D Pr.Sci.Nat M.Akad.SA, Deputy Director General: Agricultural Research and Regulatory Services, WC Department of Agriculture


Q: How does your new portfolio fit into the greater scheme?

My new post is as Deputy Director General Agricultural Research and Regulatory Services (DDG: ARRS). The Branch Agricultural Research and Regulatory Services is one of two branches in the department, the other being Agricultural Development and Support Services with DDG Darryl Jacobs. The DDG: ARRS post was advertised for the first time during February 2021 and I am the first incumbent in this new post. The branch includes the Programmes Research and Technology Development Services, Veterinary Services and Agricultural Economic Services, all being the more scientific and technical programmes of the department.

Q: What will be your main focus?

I would like to grow this branch to a new level of service delivery and seek synergies between the three programmes, also on the innovative and technological advanced level. I also wish to foster better partnerships with our other programmes, as well as stakeholders in the sector. One of my major focus areas would be people and skills development of the staff in the branch. I will continually be asking myself: what makes our three programmes different to our counterparts in other provinces and how can we better serve our clients in the sector? Furthermore, other focus areas would be market access, resource economics, climate change and also biosecurity on plant and animal level.

Q: Is there sufficient knowledge transfer with agricultural sectors from other countries?

I would reckon so, but we should not make the mistake to think all international information and knowledge can be applied on local level. We have unique challenges and a set of unique climatic challenges which calls for innovative solutions at another level. And we are blessed with the best experts in South Africa!

Q: What are the most urgent challenges facing the Western Cape on this front, especially in the wine sector?

I would say sustainable production against the global, economic and labour challenges, as well as becoming climate change resilient.

Q: Which area of research and development seems promising or excites you most?

New developments embracing the 4IR and the impact of new and adapted technology on our agricultural sector. And this would undoubtedly attract young people to our sector. Agriculture is in the process of rapid changing to a very advances, high technological, evidence based and data led sector. And this will open up so many new jobs – even beyond our imagination.

Bonus question: Do you have a favourite wine?

Yes, would not like to call brand names, but a good MCC and Shiraz can ease me out of a busy day! I salute the SA wine industry and all the role players – you do us proud. And to all our role players in agriculture – you are the best!

About Ilse Trautmann

Dr Ilse Trautmann matriculated from La Rochelle High School in Paarl and was involved in agriculture from a young age, earning her PhD in plant physiology at 29. With a deep knowledge and understanding of the sector and the industries that drive it, Dr Trautmann is sought-after for advice and guidance by industry role-players. She serves as a board member of the SA Academy for Science and Arts and at Winetech, and has also been invited to serve on the Hortgro Science Advisory Council.

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