An agricultural economist and part-time farmer, Dr Pieter Taljaard, has been appointed as Grain SA’s new chief executive. This morning, the organisation announced that he would take over the reins from Jannie de Villiers on 1 September.
According to Grain SA, Taljaard brings a wealth of expertise to this role, having served in a number of senior leadership roles in the agricultural sector. Currently, he is the go-to-market strategy lead for cereals and industrial crops at Bayer. In this capacity, he has worked with Grain SA for many years.
Other career highlights include working as lecturer at the University of the Free State where he also obtained his PhD in agricultural economics.
Passionate about agriculture
“It was very crucial for Grain SA to make the right appointment that can (sic) lead the organisation into the next era,” said Grain SA chairperson Derek Mathews. “Pieter has vast experience in the grain sector and worked very closely with farmers.”
In a media release, Grain SA furthermore described Taljaard as being passionate about agriculture, “which has also been his hobby as a part-time farmer for the past 19 years.”
Having been trained in agriculture and applied economics, he specialises in consumer and production economics, econometrics as well as mathematical optimisation.
Grain industry’s challenges
In an earlier interview with Food For Mzansi, De Villiers spoke candidly about some of the challenges still facing the grain industry. These are the challenges that Taljaard would have to tackle head-on as his successor.
De Villiers said, “The black farmers are not getting finance, they get big pieces of land that belong to government and if they are lucky they get a 30-year lease. However, the bank does not regard a 30-year lease as security, so the farmer can’t get a loan.
“The whole financing of black farmers is still a big hurdle that we need to overcome. We need to do that quickly.
“The second thing is that we need to get a better grip on climate change issues. It is getting drier in the west and we are producing 60% of our maize in the western parts of the country.”
Mathews said, “I would also like to use this opportunity to sincerely thank Jannie for his years of commitment and hard work to bring the organisation where it is today, as he now steps down as CEO. He will not be lost to agriculture and his mentorship and spiritual journey will continue to influence the industry in times ahead.”