S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Holm, Mr Alexander (agriculture)

Born: 1878, United Kingdom.
Died: 24 January 1943, Weybridge, Surrey, United Kingdom.

Alexander Holm, British agriculturalist, was educated at the University School at Reigate, Surrey, and at Wye College, Kent. He was a member and a gold medallist of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, and a Fellow of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. In March 1903 he was appointed as the first general manager of the government experimental farm at Potchefstroom, Transvaal Colony, which had been established the previous year as the first agricultural experimental farm in the territory. He purchased livestock and implements for the farm in Holland, Australia and the United Kingdom during the next eight years. Between 1906 and 1909 he published a number of short articles on various agricultural topics in the Transvaal Agricultural Journal (Vol. 5-8). Four of these appeared under the title "Diary for the farm"; others dealt with manures and their application, experiments on maize, the potato and its cultivation, and the results of experiments conducted on the experimental farm at Potchefstroom.

Holm's interest in agricultural education is indicated by two further notes in the same journal, one on "Some aspects of rural education" (1907), the other on "The education of the young farmer" (1909). In July of the latter year the experimental farm was expanded to form the School of Agriculture and Experimental Farm. In addition to his duties as general manager of the farm, Holm became principal of the school. The institution presented a diploma course in agriculture. After the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 he contributed several further articles to the new Agricultural Journal of the Union. These dealt with "A system of marking and recording pedigree stock" (1911), "Friesland cattle and their points" (1912), "Afrikander cattle..." (1912), and "Notes on tobacco growing..." (1912). Largely owing to his efforts a studbook was formed for Afrikaner cattle in 1912, so that planned breeding could take place for controlling the development of the breed.

In October 1912, Holm received an appointment as under-secretary for agriculture of the Union, with responsibility for agricultural education. By 1906 he was a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science and in 1912/13 served as a member of its council. In 1917 he served as chairman of the Wheat Commission and subsequently compiled the Report of the departmental committee on wheat growing... in the Union of South Africa (Cape Town, Department of Agriculture, 1919).

In 1919 Holm left South Africa to become director of agriculture of Kenya, a post he held until 1933. During that entire period he was also president of the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of Kenya and served on various boards and committees. For example, he compiled the Report of the special committee of the legislative council appointed to examine and report upon the position in respect of bovine pleuro-pneumonia... (Nairobi, 1922), the Report of the proceedings of the fourth maize conference... (Nairobi, 1927), and the Report of the Labour commission (Nairobi, 1927). He was honoured as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1926. In 1905 he married Jessie N. Crawford, with whom he had three daughters.

List of sources:
Agricultural Journal (Union of South Africa), 1911-1912, Vol. 2-4.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Alexander Holm / A. Holm.

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

South African Association for the Advancement of Science. Report, 1905/6, 1910, 1913: Lists of members and office bearers.

Standard encyclopaedia of southern Africa (SESA). Cape Town: Nasou, 1970-1976.

Transvaal Agricultural Journal, 1906-1909, Vol. 5-8.

Transvaal civil service list, 1906.

Transvaal public service list, 1909.

Ultimate beef: Afrikaner. www.ultimatebeef.co.za/afrikaner/ as on 2017 11-13.

Union of South Africa. Public service list, 1914.

Who was who, Vol. 4, 3rd ed. London: Adam & Black, 1964.

Compiled by: C. Plug