High honour for former SA director-general of agriculture

South Africa’s Bongiwe N. Njobe is the new chairman of the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR).

Njobe, who acted as the director-general of the South African Department of Agriculture between 1997 and 2004, will be supported by Italy’s Raffaele Maria Mairona, who will be Vice-Chair.

According to the GFAR Secretariat, Njobe has over 30 years experience in agricultural policy practice, fast-moving consumer goods and sustainable development in the public, private and non-governmental sector in Africa and at international level.

“Ms Bongiwe N. Njobe brings a wealth of professional and organisational leadership skills to the role of Chair,” the GFAR Secretariat said in a statement.

According to the forum, the new leaders will develop and implement the next chapter of the GFAR, the Medium Term Plan (2018 – 2021).

The GFAR is an international forum which facilitates research and innovation in agriculture and food production, partnering with several stakeholders around the globe. It is funded by the European Union.

Rooted in agriculture

Njobe is deeply rooted in the agricultural sector on a global scale and has worked in world-renowned organisations such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the African Development Bank.

She has also served as a non-executive director on the boards of CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Research Institute), Kagiso Trust, Vumelana Advisory Fund, Hortgro and Fruit South Africa.

During her ten years in government, she was responsible for the development of agricultural policy, related legislation, and the implementation of national, agricultural development programs. She supervised South African public entities like the Agricultural Research Council, Perishable Products Export Control Boards and the Land and Agricultural Bank of South Africa. She also held senior positions in the private sector, including at South African Breweries and Tiger Brands.

In her term as DG of agriculture, Njobe launched the annual Female Farmer of Year Awards, which recognises the work of women in the South African agricultural sector. She also helped with the development of an Integrated Food Security Strategy and Biotechnology Strategy.

Njobe and Mairona will take over from the previous chair and vice-chair, Dr Juan Lucas Restrepo and Professor Ruth Oniang’o.

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