South Africa’s largest commercial farmers’ organisation, Agri SA, has announced changes to its executive leadership, which will see Christo van der Rheede, deputy executive director at Agri SA, replace Omri van Zyl as the new executive director, while Van Zyl will take up the role of CEO for the budding business unit, Agri SA Enterprises.
The exponential growth of Agri SA Enterprises has given rise to the need for a full-time CEO and its own board of directors.
This was according to a statement that was issued recently to announce the management restructure at the organisation.
Agri SA Enterprises was initiated by Agri SA in 2015 under the leadership of Van Zyl, and offered services focussed on the food value chain to a spectrum of clients, the statement said.
Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly, Van Zyl said he was already in the process of handing over the reins to Van der Rheede.
He added that Agri SA had traditionally been policy-driven and this would remain so, while Agri SA Enterprises would place strong emphasis on a market development strategy, and finding solutions to the most significant risk management factors in the agriculture sector.
“One of the biggest challenges that prevents growth in agriculture is funding, especially with certain structures such as the Land Bank in trouble, finding funding solutions is [vital],” he said.
“We want to set the pace with land reform projects through establishing and funding of commercial agricultural partnerships between established and developing farming entities,” Van Zyl said.
Responding to the news of his appointment as executive director of Agri SA, Van der Rheede said his focus would be primarily on safety and security challenges within the farming sector and on ensuring an enabling business environment for farmers.
“The top three [priorities] are: working towards securing a safe and secure environment for our farmers, considering the violent attacks that have been experienced; promoting a conducive business environment in which all of our farmers can flourish; and protecting and advancing the economic interests of our farmers to ensure food security for all,” he said.