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:

For more information please visit



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