Top brass leave farming sector

TWO OF THE AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY’S top leaders have announced that they will be leaving the sector.
Issue date 15 June 2007

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Dr Tobias Doyer, CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber (ABC) and Andrew Makenete, head of Absa’s agribusiness division, both recently announced that they will be taking up new positions. Doyer will be heading Absa’s ­manufacturing division from August and Makenete has moved to Absa’s retail ­segment. No one has been appointed to either Doyer’s or Makenete’s positions.

“The job is something new and exciting,” Doyer said, adding that his decision to leave the ABC is a professional move. “I had an excellent time at the ABC and it is with a sad heart that I’m leaving,” he said. Doyer said in his new position he would still have a hand in agricultural manufacturing and processing. Korwyn Botha, president of the ABC, said they are searching for a suitable candidate to fill Doyer’s position.

Other industry role-players expressed regret about the announcement. Etienne Terre’Blanche, managing director of the Milk Producers’ Organisation, said it is always problematic when people with expert knowledge leave the industry, especially if they are young and can still make a ­significant contribution. “It is a problem to find replacements because it will always take a while for people to settle in,” Terre’Blanche said.

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Bennie van Zyl, general manager of TAU SA, wished them well in their new ­endeavours. He said it is worrying that many young professionals are leaving agriculture. “It is a big loss to the sector,” he said.

Nico Hawkins, manager of industry affairs at Grain SA, agreed that Doyer and Makenete made a huge contribution to the sector. “It is a great loss, especially if people have accumulated a lot of knowledge of the industry,” Hawkins said, adding that the sector as a whole is struggling as so many people are leaving. This is a concern at all levels, but in the scientific environment particularly. “An even bigger problem is in research. We have lost a lot of capacity in the last couple of years,” he said.

In another development Dr ­Mohammad Karaan, chairman of the National ­Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), could also leave the sector. Karaan’s term at the NAMC expires at the end of this month, but he would not say if he would be available for the post again, should he be approached. He said the minister of agriculture still has to announce a ­candidate for the position. – Staff reporter