Johann Kotzé on Thursday appointed the new CEO for local agricultural organisation Agri SA with his tenure beginning in October.
Kotzé is appointed at a time the agriculture sector faces several challenges, which was reflected in the latest data by Statistics South Africa.
The latest gross domestic product data released showed that in the first quarter of this year, agriculture gross value added sharply contracted by -12.3% quarter on quarter (seasonally adjusted).
Jaco Minnaar, Agri SA president, congratulated Kotzé and said he was excited at the new phase ahead.
“Kotzé’s appointment comes at a critical point in South Africa’s trajectory. We need leadership across so many spheres of both the larger South African society and the agricultural industry.
“In the coming years, agriculture will have to navigate the combined impact of challenges such as climate change, deteriorating infrastructure, decaying service delivery, rural safety, shifts in global markets and policy uncertainty,” Minnaar said.
Minnaar said Kotzé was a creative leader with a passion for farming, and the sustainability of the food system.
“He brings a wealth of experience as a former agricultural banker and a renowned leader in organised agriculture,” he said.
Kotzé grew up in a farming family in North West and went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economy at the University of Pretoria, a master’s degree in business management and administration, as well as an executive development programme at the Stellenbosch Business School.
Kotzé started his career as a farmer and, thereafter, he became an agricultural banker at Absa. After working as a corporate banker in Mozambique, he became an independent business consultant. Kotzé returned to banking and oversaw Africa agriculture for FNB. Since 2017, he has served as CEO of the South African Pig Producers Organisation.
Commenting on his appointment, Kotzé said over the course of his career, he has learnt that South African agriculture commanded global respect for its efficient farming practices.
“As an agricultural community, we need to match the natural hope that South African farmers embody, with pragmatic solutions to the complex challenges we face. Looking ahead, we will have to challenge our thinking on what is realistically possible in the current business environment, and position agriculture to leverage partnerships in the broader business and international community,” Kotzé said.
In the current conditions, the sector should not be tempted by frustration, but collectively facilitate innovative solutions.
“The ethos and integrity of our structures need to create the necessary conditions and a culture receptive to change,” he said.
Kotzé, whose tenure as Agri SA CEO will commence in October, said he was confident that as an industry, they could collaboratively author a new narrative and unlock the growth potential of agriculture in Africa.
“Future sustainability is fundamentally a question of leadership,” he said.