Andrew Makenete joins Africa Agri Tech as an event ambassador

Well-known agri-businessman Andrew Makenete has joined the Africa Agri Tech organising committee as an event ambassador and advisor. A trained agricultural economist and practising agriculturalist, Makenete’s expertise lies in agricultural finance and policy planning. He understands and actively promotes the need for appropriate institutional arrangements in the sector. He has over 25 years’ experience in the sector, and has served in various roles and capacities in government, nongovernmental organisations in the form of farmer unions and associations, private sector consulting firms and in agricultural finance business in the private and public sectors, in senior management and executive roles and responsibilities.

Makenete is a director of the JSE-listed Rhodes Food Group and at Crookes Brothers South Africa, and is a board member of the Agricultural Research Council.  He has served as a technical advisor and member of the African Farmers Association of South Africa since its formation and was a former chief executive of the National African Farmers Union. 

Thoko Didiza, the new minister of the reconstituted department of agriculture, land affairs and rural development, recently appointed Makenete to the task team to develop the Master Plan for Agricultural Development in South Africa, and also to advise on the restructuring of the Blended Finance Facility.

“I am pleased to be part of the inaugural Africa Agri Tech and welcome the initiative to make technology in agriculture more accessible to all producers and growers. Technology holds the promise of enabling farmers’ — from small to mega-farmers — to be more productive and efficient in the future,” says Makenete.

Developing black smallholder farmers

He has a passion for developing black smallholder farmers so they can make a more significant contribution and impact in the agricultural economy. Makenete has invested a lot of time and energy understanding the challenges and bottlenecks that face smallholder farmers, and has designed and instituted projects specifically designed to transform the agricultural sector so that it becomes more inclusive for these farmers.

As head of agribusiness at Absa bank he provided oversight in the expansion of the loan book from R14-billion to over R24-billion in a space of just five years. He oversaw the establishment and launch of a new division in the Land and Development Bank of South Africa that finances smallholder farmers, and led the design of the wholesale financing facility, a product for intermediaries (third parties) to on-lend to smallholder and emerging farmers.  This scheme followed the successful launch of a financing product that he piloted at Absa in the late 2000s to provide credit using non-traditional security instruments to smallholder farmers on communal land or on land where farmers had Permission to Occupy rights, which grew to a loan book of over R50-million within two years.

Recently Makenete was responsible for establishing and building the agricultural investment practice and arm for the Musa Group, which manages R150-million worth of agricultural assets.  As a technical expert, he supported a company called African Dynamics — a subsidiary of the Musa Group — in building an integrated school feeding programme that at its peak fed over one million learners a day in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.  He currently serves as an executive at Novel Initiatives, a black-owned and operated multi-faceted food services company with a strong logistics and supply chain footprint. He also runs Talana Agricultural Investment Group, which has launched a bid to acquire an integrated vegetable supply chain business with an intensive farm production unit and a farm machinery/services and input supplies unit. 

Makenete has both advised and helped to restructure Dicla Farm and Seeds over the past year, which has seen the business grow its turnover 20% year-on-year in these difficult trading times. It has also increased its market throughput to consistently supply all product lines from nine months to 10 months of the trading period.  Talana Agricultural Investment Group is also in a partnership with the Lesotho National Development Corporation to develop and run a market-trading platform (market centre) to support and facilitate the growth and trade of fresh produce in Lesotho.  Makenete consults and advises numerous other corporate and non-corporate entities such as Exxaro, where he is currently assisting the company with developing a strategy for a sustainable future that is less reliant upon coal. 

The Africa Agri Tech Expo and Conference takes place at the Maslow Hotel and Arena in Pretoria from February 18 to 20. For the conference programme, visit: http://bit.ly/31JeVnB

For more information please visit africaagritech.co.za

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