Gopinath “Gopi” Munisamy, a University of Georgia professor of agricultural and applied economics, was recently named Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Marketing in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Spanning more than 35 years in academia and government, his work includes topics in agricultural policy, markets, trade and economic development.
Munisamy began his position at UGA in May 2019 after serving seven years as director of the markets and trade economics division at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service. Prior to that, he was a professor of applied economics at Oregon State University.
“How can I provide information that makes people’s lives better?” It’s a driving question that Munisamy says brought him into the field and keeps him motivated. “That’s why I stuck to agricultural economics all of my life. This position (at UGA) gives me a great opportunity to be more effective at that.”
One of his current research interests is using machine learning and artificial intelligence for better forecasting of market outcomes like price, production, consumption and trade. He is currently collaborating with other faculty at the university on this broad-based informatics initiative. He also has plans to study international dimensions of climate change with other faculty in the college.
Octavio Ramirez, head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, applauded Munisamy’s accomplishments and appointment to the professorship, which received an initial endowment contribution from the Milton M. Ratner Foundation.
“His exceptional academic credentials and research skills, combined with his experiences at USDA, make him capable of rigorously analyzing the complex global food and agricultural markets, trade, and policy issues being faced by the state of Georgia and our country and translating those analyses into extremely valuable information for industry and policymakers.”
The top issues currently affecting the industry are recovery from multiple natural disasters, the trade war and now the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Munisamy, who teaches international agricultural trade and policy to graduate students and agricultural policy to undergraduates.
He underscores the importance of domestic and international features of agricultural markets.
“Trade is a very important sector,” he says. “Georgia produces more than 60 commodities. You really have to look closely at domestic and international issues affecting markets and provide information useful to farmers, consumers and policymakers.”
Munisamy says it’s vital for academia and government to work together, as both are paramount to solving industry problems.
“In Washington, you’re running between meetings and reacting to issues that come up,” he said. “More often, you’re pulling together information and delivering it to policymakers. In academia, you're leading knowledge creation. These roles complement each other, and you have to have these moving together.”
To learn more about the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, visit agecon.uga.edu.