Executive Committee

The Executive Committee (EXCO) is responsible for addressing governance matters and strategic issues, and is accountable to the Agbiz Council. The Council met regularly to provide mandates for positions on a range of policy matters and issues.

Schalk Pienaar
Managing Director of S Pienaar Consultants

Schalk was elected as Chairman of Agbiz during the Congress of 2011. He has served on the Executive Committee of Agbiz since 2007. He holds a B.Com degree, University Education diploma and has attended various focused industry courses locally and overseas covering such areas as performance and productivity improvement, turnaround and change management as well as strategic leadership.

Before his retirement as the CEO of Suidwes Beleggings in 2012 (Southwest Investments) he served in various senior executive positions in that organisation. Prior to joining Suidwes (Southwest) he was a Divisional Director of Premier Foods during which period he was a Director of, as well as, Chairman of the National Chamber of Milling.

Schalk also served as a member of the Maize and Wheat Advisory Committees and as a trustee of the Maize Trust. Schalk spent 20 years in agricultural development in South Africa of which 7 years as CEO of Agricor.

He has extensive experience in high-profile executive and non-executive managerial and director positions which was the result of his balanced exposure to and practical knowledge of policy, legislative and governance requirements complimented by senior positions in a diverse group of organisations.

Schalk has retired from the corporate world and runs a commercial cattle farming operation in the Free State. He maintains an interest in business and serves on various industry organisations.

Danie Marais

Danie is the Managing Director of NWK Limited since July 2007. Currently he serves as a director for several companies which include: Africaneth Coöperative U A, Dunavant BV, Dunavant Zambia Limited, Noordfed (Pty) Limited, ATC (Pty) Limited, Opti Feeds (Pty) Limited, Opti Chicks (Pty) Limited, Epko Oil Seed Crushing (Pty) Limited and Certisure (Pty) Limited.

Since joining NWK Limited the company’s corporate image has changed and the strategic initiative to expand into Africa was implemented under his management.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a Magister degree in Business Leadership with more than 17 years’ experience at executive level. He serves on the Executive Committee of Agbiz since June 2012.

Danie was involved in the Agricultural Sector prior to joining NWK Limited. He was appointed as CEO of VKB, during October 2000 to July 2006, to lead the transition of VKB into a profitable entity which was clearly demonstrated in their Annual Reports.

He was employed by African Products (Pty) Limited as Executive Director. There his career included various positions in Financial Departments, Strategic Planning Director and Operations Director, Meyerton Plant (February 1981 to September 2000).

Langa Simela

Dr Langelihle Simela (Langa) was appointed as Business Development Manager in the ABSA/Barclays AgriBusiness Centre of Excellence in June 2015.  Langa has served smallholder farmers for over 10 years with the National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (NERPO; 2004 - 2015) and African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA; 2011 - 2015). During that period, she led organisational development of the two associations and facilitated a number of farmer development programmes. She participated in a number of regional consultancies such as the livestock sector analysis and development an investment framework for Zimbabwe, and development of support strategies and action plans for livestock associations and apex organisations in Southern Africa, for AU-IBAR.

With a PhD in Animal Science and Masters in Veterinary Tropical Diseases she managed the research efforts relating to Theme A – Production in a Resource-constrained environment in the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Well- being (IFNUW), University of Pretoria. She has served as director in a number of industry bodies and is currently a Director of Tshwabac (Tshwane Business & Agricultural Corporation). She is currently serving on the High Level Panel of Experts Project Team for Sustainable Agricultural Development for Food Security And Nutrition, Including the Role of Livestock.

Langa has published in academic journals and publications and serves on the editorial board of Small Ruminant Research (Elsevier) and the Bulletin for Animal Health and Production in Africa (BAHPA).

One of her valued accolades is being nominated an Agricultural Role Model in 2013, by the Modernising African Food Systems Consortium. 

Francois Strydom

Francois obtained his B.Sc. (Honours) degree at the Free State University in South Africa. He started his career at OTK, now known as Afgri, in 1987 as a Livestock Specialist. He worked himself up through the ranks of the company in several operational positions until he was eventually appointed as Director of Grain and Diverse Operations. He was tasked with the turn-around, restructuring and takeover of several businesses.

He accepted an appointment at Senwes in May 2001 and was tasked to turn around the listed company Kolosus. After its successful completion he was appointed as Director of Operations on 21 June 2003, taking care of Grain, Trade, Hartswater Wine Cellar and the Insurance Division. Francois was appointed as Acting Managing Director on 1 June 2010 and from 6 August 2010 he was appointed as Managing Director of Senwes Limited. A comprehensive 2020 strategy was designed and approved by December 2010 and implementation started in January 2011.

The concept of designing the future and not predicting it was developed. It contained, amongst others, the concepts of consolidation, reorganising, geographic expansion and extending the value chains in the areas of strategic focus. Partnership development is one of the business model focus area and a variety of national and international partnership models were developed and successfully implemented to date.

The philosophy of the strategy is to initiate change in the sector and to facilitate this. International exposure of the Executive Committee to the best training facilities around the world is being done. Regular talks at leading conferences and business schools are given on this topic. He serves as Director on a number of Subsidiary Board’s and is an Executive Director on the Board of Senwes Limited. Senwes is an agricultural business that focuses on the provision of production inputs primarily to grain producers, as well as market access for agricultural produce.

This is strategically coupled with the provision of value added services, which include, amongst others, financing, insurance and agricultural technical services. Senwes conducts its business predominantly in the North West, Free State, Gauteng, Northern and Western Cape in South Africa. The group also undertakes international trade in the SADC region as well as certain parts of East Africa.

Sean Walsh

Sean was appointed as Managing Director of Kaap Agri Operations Limited in 2011. Prior to that he held the posisionOperational Director, responsible for all trade and product related activities as well as for a manufacturing subsidiary at Kaap Agri Limited.

Sean started his career in 1990 at SA Breweries where he held various positions in operations and distribution - the final executive position being National Operations Manager. He thereafter held the position General Manager at Sefalana Holdings Company Ltd (2000 – 2001) and Operational Director at Derek Brink Holdings (2001 – 2003).

Sean moved on to become General Manager for SBV Services (Pty) Ltd (Subsidiary of four of the largest banking groups in SA) where he was responsible for the logistic services for banking and retail businesses (2003 - 2004). He joined GWK Ltd as General Manager Products and later General Manager Operations and Subsidiaries (2004 – 2008).

Sean obtained his Honours B.Econ (Transport Economy) at the University of Stellenbosch.

John Purchase

John is currently CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) of South Africa, having been appointed to the position in 2007. Prior to taking up the position with Agbiz, he was the CEO of Grain South Africa. Dr Purchase started his professional career as a scientist in South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council (ARC). In effect he served the ARC for 22 years in various research and managerial positions.

John was appointed to the Board of the Land & Agricultural Bank of South Africa in July 2012, as well as appointed as Council Member to the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) by the South African Cabinet. John is the current chairman of the CEO Forum, a forum of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in which the CEO’s and MD’s of agribusinesses and organized agriculture meet with the Minister and senior executives of DAFF (government) to address the critical and strategic challenges facing the broader agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries of South Africa.

John was also appointed by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to serve on the Reference Group that provided direction and oversight in the development of DAFF’s Integrated Growth and Development Plan (IGDP) for the South African agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, as well as currently serves on the AgriBEE Charter Council.

He serves on various Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) committees and NEDLAC task teams with regard to policy and legislation matters impacting on the agro-food industry, such as co-operatives legislation, consumer protection legislation (GM labelling), climate change and carbon tax policy, land reform policy and legislation, spatial planning and land use management legislation, expropriation legislation, et cetera.

Among other awards, he received the 2011 Alumnus of the Year award from the University of the Free State, as well as the 2012 South African Agriculturalist of the Year Award from the South African Agricultural Writers Association. In June 2013 he was also elected to the Board of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), following the IFAMA World Forum held in Atlanta, USA, in June 2013.

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