Merida Smuts received a B.Sc. (Agric) in Animal Science in 1989, a BSc (Agric) Honours degree in Animal Science (Wool Science) in 1991, an MSc degree in Animal Science (Animal Nutrition) (Cum Laude) in 1993, a PhD in Agricultural Economics from the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development of the University of Pretoria in 2004, and most recently (2014) completed a post graduate diploma in Ancient Cultures at the University of Stellenbosch (Cum laude).
She started her career as a research assistant in the Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences at the University of Pretoria, and then went on to serve as a visiting scholar at the American Goat Research Institute in Oklahoma, in the United States from 1993 to 1996. On returning to South Africa she created and managed the Farming Systems Research and Extension and Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise Development Program at the Irene Animal Nutrition and Products Institute of the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa until 2002. As leader of this programme she concentrated on development projects that emphasised job-creation, value-adding, gender, resource and information access, and indigenous resources and knowledge. She is the author or co-author of more than 48 scientific and popular press papers.
In 2002 Merida founded and currently manages Scientific Roots; Social entrepreneurs who provide accredited, high quality, agricultural and entrepreneurship-related training to rural beneficiaries and assists rural entrepreneurs with their enterprise development - from assisting with Business Planning, through product development, creating market linkages, infrastructure and institutional development and implementation.
Her interest in plants, the environment and the community is mirrored by her interest in indigenous resource utilisation and value-adding and the concomitant intellectual property rights of indigenous resources and entrepreneurial development.
Merida lives on a beautiful, small farm just outside the country town of Kokstad in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with her 13-year-old, Leandra. She is an avid gardener.