27 August 2021 | Story Lacea Loader

The University of the Free State (UFS), in partnership with Standard Bank and the Mangaung Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is pleased to invite you to a special lunchtime webinar with:

• Mr Tommie van Zyl (CEO of ZZ2);
• Mr Wandile Sihlobo (Chief Economist of AgBiz); and
• Mr Nico Groenewald (Head of Agriculture, Standard Bank).
Join us for a discussion on the state of South African agriculture, the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, and how farmers and agri-businesses can respond to the opportunities and challenges in the agricultural sector. 
Date: 9 September 2021
Time: 12:30 to 14:00 (via Zoom)
RSVP: Alicia Pienaar at PienaarAN1@ufs.ac.za by 7 September 2021

Bios of panellists:

Mr Tommie van Zyl is the Chief Executive Officer of the ZZ2 farming group. He studied Agriculture and Commerce at Stellenbosch University before completing his postgraduate studies at the University of Florida in the USA. Currently, he serves as director on various boards and was the director and vice-chairman of the USA-based PMA (Produce Marketing Association), as well as the chairman of the Agricultural Produce Agents Council (APAC) for seven years. He has received numerous awards, including a Fulbright scholarship, a Gamma Sigma Delta award, and an honorary medal from the South African Academy of Science. During the twenty years that Mr Van Zyl held the position of Chief Executive of ZZ2, the farm has grown extensively from the family farm that his father began. They produce tomatoes, onions, avocados, mangoes, deciduous fruit, cherries, almonds, blueberries, Medjool dates, and cattle on farms across South Africa and Namibia. Mr Van Zyl, who is fluent in Sesotho, is positive by nature and is actively involved in community development. He believes that farming in South Africa has a bright future if changes are managed purposefully and thoughtfully.  
Mr Wandile Sihlobo is the Chief Economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz). He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Fort Hare and a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Stellenbosch University. He is the author of Finding Common Ground: Land, Equity, and Agriculture published by Pan Macmillan in March 2020. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, and a columnist for Business Day and Farmer’s Weekly. In 2019, Mr Sihlobo was appointed as a member of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Presidential Economic Advisory Council after serving on the Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture between 2018 and 2019. He is also a member of the Council of Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) and a Commissioner at the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC).

Mr Nico Groenewald has been the Head of Agribusiness for Standard Bank’s business and commercial clients since 2014. He graduated with a BScAgric from the University of Pretoria in 1988 and completed an MBA at the North-West University in 1997. Mr Groenewald began his career with Standard Bank in 1990 as a junior agricultural adviser before joining an agribusiness (VKB) in 1991 as an agricultural economist focusing on production economics. In 1997, he re-joined Standard Bank as an agricultural credit evaluation manager. From 2005 onwards, Groenewald fulfilled several management roles in the agricultural business, as well as credit functions within Standard Bank before being appointed in his current position. He is also a member of the steering committee of Agbiz, a reputable national organisation that represents agribusiness in South Africa, as well as Standard Bank’s representative on the Agricultural Committee of the Banking Association South Africa.

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