The wait is finally over. No less than 55 winners of Bayer South Africa’s Annual Sales Awards were revealed at a glitzy awards ceremony held at Montecasino in Johannesburg.
Jaco van Zyl, who joined Bayer Crop Science in June 1998, was announced as the Agronomist of the Year – a prestigious award recognising his influence and contribution to South Africa’s agricultural industry.
Bayer, who last year finalised a $66 billion blockbuster deal to take over Monsanto, said Van Zyl has for many seasons played an instrumental role in the company’s dry land portfolio. He is also leading Intacta, Bayer’s insect-resistant soybeans project.
Van Zyl, a graduate of the Tshwane University of Technology, is also widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable experts in the cotton industry. He is no stranger to the awards stage. In 2009 he was announced Agronomist of the Year for Maize and eight years earlier, in 2001, he won Sales Agronomist of the Year for Cotton.
Dr Klaus Eckstein, Bayer Africa Cluster Head, thanked guests for their immense contribution to agriculture. “Awards show individual excellence, but is also evidence of partnerships and leadership. Profitability and sustainability in business and on farms starts with trust between partners.”
The award categories included Crop Protection Agent of the Year, Seed Sales Representative of the Year, Valued Supply Customers of the Year and Best Execution of Company Strategy.
In her opening message Corporate Communications Manager Magda du Toit described the Annual Sales Awards as an opportunity to reflect on the past year and to “pinpoint certain critical elements and contributions from people towards our success”.
According to Kobus Steenekamp, Bayer’s Commercial Operations Lead South Africa, trust, customer focus, collaboration and experimentation are the multinational company’s core focus behaviours. He commended his sales and broker colleagues who achieved significant growth which led to significant value creation for clients.
Among the Bayer staffers who received awards counted:
- Sandile Khumalo, who received a sales excellence award for the way in which he grew the business and added value to the farming enterprises of his customers;
- Willa Botha, a sales representative in the Northwest areas of Hartbeesfontein and Ottosdal, for the way in which he executed the new account planning strategy.
- Agronomist Tony Johnson who received great recognition from the small-holder farmer team;
- Coenie Reichel from Lichtenburg in Northwest who was announced as the Sales Representative of the Year;
- Hennie Stander and his team in the Northern Cape who was announced as Bayer’s Sales Region of the Year Award. Stander also won the Sales Manager of the Year category; and
- Hannes Schoeman who is the Crop Protection Sales Manager of the Year.
The function was hosted by Ivor Price, a media personality who founded Food For Mzansi along with media strategist Kobus Louwrens.
Steenekamp commended the Food For Mzansi team for their contribution to creating social cohesion through agriculture. He said that Bayer was a proud supporter of their initiative to showcase the many success stories from the country’s diverse group of agriculturists.
Price said that Food For Mzansi was proudly associated with the Bayer family. “We honour you and we recognise the amazing work done by you in all parts of the country. Farmers don’t always have it easy, but we thank Bayer for continuing to show a friendlier face of agriculture despite the economic and political tribulations that the agricultural industry is facing. This goes a great deal in uniting the nation behind our farmers and agripreneurs.”