AGH announces new CEO for its AFGRI Agri Services business

Centurion, 27 August 2019 – Chris Venter, the CEO of AGH, the  investment holding company with interests in a number of food, agriculture and financial services related companies providing products and services to ensure sustainable agriculture and food security, has announced the appointment of Jacob de Villiers as the new CEO of its AFGRI Agri Services business, following former CEO Tinus Prinsloo’s retirement at the end of July 2019. De Villiers is no stranger to the business nor any of its stakeholders, most recently filling the position of CFO of AFGRI Agri Services.

De Villiers, a Chartered Accountant by training, has held various roles within the organisation since first joining in 2002. Most recently, he acted in a dual capacity as managing director of AFGRI Grain Management and CFO of AFGRI Agri Services.

He believes there will be no major changes in the business, a leading agricultural services company with core competencies to enhance, support and guide the growth of agricultural enterprises, under his leadership in the next 12 to 18 months. His focus will be on strategy implementation and exemplary customer service.

“We are privileged that Tinus is leaving behind such an excellent legacy. AFGRI Agri Services has gone through extensive restructuring during the past two years as part of the overall AGH reorganisation, which has successfully positioned us to take this business forward. We’ve also during this time dealt with legacy issues and have built a solid management team – now it’s really a matter of fine tuning,” said de Villiers.

“What we want to do is to implement our strategy, ensuring our processes are optimised and working for us, doing more with less, and executing swiftly with an even greater focus on our customers, ensuring they are always front of mind.”

De Villiers says that given a number of external forces affecting the agricultural sector, including drought, political intervention, and foreign exchange fluctuations, amongst others,  that are simply beyond the business’ control, it’s critical  to remain heedful of those things that can be managed to ensure that AFGRI Agri Services continues to flourish.

“We are responsible corporate citizen, contributing wholeheartedly to building South Africa’s economy, employing more people – all this to ensure our business thrives.”

With the newly-created AFGRI Silo Company now in place, de Villiers says leveraging this platform will be a major focus in the next 12 to 18 months, with the intention being to have more grain storage participants come on board, with the goal of building storage capacity from 4,7 million tonnes to six million tonnes, as well as branching out into the storage of other agricultural commodities beyond grain.

On the financial services side, de Villiers believes that apart from having a more robust financial services offering from UNIGRO following AGH’s acquisition of the South African Bank of Athens (now Grobank) last year, securing long-term funding is critical to ensuring that the farmer book continues to strengthen, all the while ensuring the relationship of origination for the Land Bank remains steadfast.

“We are working with like-minded funding partners that have the best interests of the sector at heart to support South Africa’s farmers across all nine provinces, with AFGRI Agri Services now having a solid presence across the country.”

From AFGRI Equipment perspective, de Villiers says that the next 12 to 18 months will be a period of consolidation for this division, which has gone through several mergers and acquisitions over the past three to four years. “Here the focus for the next year or so will be on further process improvement, bedding these down, and ensuring the business operates optimally.”

Lemang Agricultural Services, created last year to focus on assisting black commercial farmers, is now in the final stages of being accredited as a level 1 B-BBEE financial intermediary and will be supported by UNIGRO and other funders. “This is a very exciting initiative – it’s almost like starting a new business from scratch, and here certainly the long-term goal is to grow Lemang to the same size as AFGRI Agri Services.”

AFGRI Technology Services (ATS) will also play a key role in supporting the other divisions adapt to innovation and technology, as well as bringing AgTech to customers as part of AFGRI Agri Services’ overall suite of offerings. Furthermore, ATS has several joint partnerships and in terms of data extraction and mining with the aim of ensuring that AFGRI Agri Services has the right information at hand to ensure its sustainability going forward. “We’re very excited to see various other developments coming to fruition soon.”

Another clear focus will be on people – for de Villiers having an engaged workforce is imperative to achieving a truly customer-centric organisation that is set apart from others in the sector.

According to Venter, AFGRI Agri Services will remain in good hands. “I am confident Jacob has what it takes to further cement this business’ position as a leader in providing agricultural services and products and I look forward to working with him.”

Venter added that whilst Prinsloo may be retiring as CEO of AFGRI Agri Services, he will continue to serve as a non-executive director on the boards of a number of invested companies falling under the AGH umbrella, and further assist in the positioning of the AFGRI Silo Company.

“In this way his skills and expertise will remain available to AGH, which will ensure that his knowledge and deep experience of the agricultural sector are passed on to another generation of leaders within the Group.”

Vodacom Blue Bulls U21 loaded for semi-final match against Cell C Sharks U21

The Vodacom Blue Bulls U21s have been named for their SA Rugby U21 Championship semi-final match against the Cell C Sharks U21s at Loftus Versfeld on Friday, 30 August 2019.

Head coach, Nollis Marais kept the changes to a minimum with a change in the midfield as Wian van Niekerk replaces Jay-Cee Nel at inside centre.

Marnus Potgieter was set to don the outside centre jersey but dislocated his finger during training which allows Sango Xamlashe an opportunity.

Amongst the forwards, another lock partnership will start as both Ruan Nortje and Ryno Pieterse return to the fold while Mornay Smith and Werner Fourie are the front row changes.

The new faces on the bench are Llewellyn Classen, Carl Els, Ewart Potgieter, Cabous Eloff, Lionel April and Dawid Kellerman.

Kick-off is 13:00 and the public are encouraged to come down to support the juniors with entrance to the match being free of charge.

Vodacom Blue Bulls U21: 15. Richard Kriel, 14. Gershwin Mouton, 13. Sango Xamlashe, 12. Wian van Niekerk, 11. Sebastiaan Jobb, 10. Theo Boshoff, 9. Keagan Johannes, 8. Muller Uys (C), 7. Hanru Sirgel, 6. Stephan Smit, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Ryno Pieterse, 3. Mornay Smith, 2. Werner Fourie, 1. Kudzwai Dube.

Replacements: 16. Llewellyn Classen, 17. Etienne Janeke, 18. Carl Els, 19. Ewart Potgieter, 20. Johan Mulder, 21. Lionel April, 22. Dawid Kellerman, 23. Cabous Eloff.


Tshwane 10s: Bigger and better with the Vodacom Bulls

Pretoria’s greatest sports festival, the Tshwane 10s will be bigger and better than ever before come 27 & 28 September 2019. The festival will take place on the Loftus Versfeld grounds, home of the Vodacom Bulls, from 07h30 – 23h30 on both days.

“We wish the Bulls Family a warm welcome to the Tshwane 10s – we know that all of our 100 plus teams will find it a huge honour to take to your grounds, compete under your brand and will fully embrace the sportsmanship and pride that is synonymous with the Vodacom Bulls,” says Tshwane 10s Festival Director, Gerhardi Odendaal.

In addition to the 50 plus rugby teams expected to enter, all of which will play on the Loftus Versfeld pitch, the festival will once again host teams from the sporting codes of netball, dodgeball, hockey and soccer. Friends, family and fans from far and wide are encouraged to enter their teams or book their general tickets which are inclusive of a fan park and beer tent.

Blue Bulls CEO Alfons Meyer believes that this event will go a long way in both welcoming new audiences to the Vodacom Bulls precinct as well as rewarding the old faithful with a game on the Loftus grounds come Tshwane 10s rugby. “I did not hesitate at this relationship opportunity as we constantly strive towards innovative ideas to reach new audiences whilst remaining true to who we are as an iconic sporting brand. In addition to our inaugural hosting of the Tshwane 10s, we’ll witness our first time of hosting a netball tournament at our professional rugby stadium. We open our arms to all and look forward to seeing some cracking action come end of September.”

The festival will be full of familiar faces most particularly for rugby lovers with the VIP Oakheart Invitational Team being the key one to watch consisting of Bakkies Botha;  Gareth “SoldierBoy” McLellan; Jacques Burger; Ethienne Reynecke; Edrich Linde: Jacques Muller;  Jonathan Mokuena;  Nico Luus;  Riaan Erwee;  Christiaan Snyman;  Joe van der Berg and Sam Gerber.

Tickets are now available online (Quicket), as well as at the gates on game days, with kids under 12 free. An added key highlight will be the Q&A session with Tshwane 10s ambassador Bakkies Botha and former Namibia captain Jacques Burger, which will take place before the 11h45 SA vs Namibia kickoff on Saturday 28 September.

National icon Bakkies Botha thrives on the festival year on year. “It’s a particular highlight of mine as we see over 100 sporting teams try their hand at their chosen sport. We give it all we’ve got whilst out at play, but post that final whistle we’re mates that’ll share the Loftus sunshine, beers and laughter; celebrating all that is good about life and South Africa. I personally look forward to meeting new people, playing the game I love and taking to the Loftus ground once again after countless years and many memories.”

Event details for the Tshwane 10s:

Venue: Loftus Versfeld and surrounding fields.

Date: 27 & 28 September 2019. 07h30 – 23h30 on both days.

Team entries:

Sports: Dodgeball, Netball, Rugby, Hockey, Soccer

Gqoboka back for Vodacom Blue Bulls

Springbok prop Lizo Gqoboka will make a timely return to the Vodacom Blue Bulls this weekend when they face the Cell C Sharks in their final Currie Cup clash at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. Gqoboka has been released from the Springbok squad for the match, one the home side must win to make the play-offs of the Currie Cup.

Marco van Staden, who like Gqoboka played against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld last weekend, returns to the team as well, while coach Pote Human kept faith with the remainder of the squad that returned from Johannesburg victoriously two weeks ago.

Gqoboka comes in for Dayan van der Westhuizen, who reverts to the bench, where a number of changes were made. Corniel Els makes a first appearance for the squad as back-up hooker, while Ruan Steenkamp is fit again and will play off the bench.

Human also handed a potential debut to Junior Springbok, Vaughen Isaacs, who replaces Marnitz Boshoff as back-up flyhalf.

“We know what we need to do, so our options are very clear cut,” Human said.

“We need to beat the Cell C Sharks by 12 points, with a bonus point and make sure they don’t get a bonus point. The job at hand cannot be clearer than that. So this is a quarterfinal match for us, if you like,” the coach said.

Ivan van Zyl will again lead the team and the scrumhalf indicated that the squad still have some rugby left to play.

“We are pretty determined to still be playing in three weeks’ time, come the final of the Currie Cup. Everyone is on the same page with the same mind-set. We have the quality in the squad to do this, we need to go out and prove that.”

The team is:

Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Ivan van Zyl (c), Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Johan Grobbelaar, Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: Corne Els, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Jean Droste, Ruan Steenkamp, Embrose Papier, Vaughen Isaacs, Stedman Gans.

Van Zyl to lead Vodacom Blue Bulls as Eksteen debuts

Ivan van Zyl will lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Saturday when the Pretoria side travels south to meet the Xerox Golden Lions at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg, while UP-Tuks flanker, Fred Eksteen, will make his Vodacom Blue Bulls and Currie Cup debut.

Van Zyl will make a first start in the competition after playing off the bench twice so far and take the armband of injured Ruan Steenkamp.

Eksteen played his club rugby for UP Tuks before being named in the Vodacom Blue Bulls Currie Cup wider squad and takes over from Steenkamp at the side of the scrum. The flanker will run out along with Dayan van der Westhuizen and Johan Grobbelaar, who were both elevated into the starting team for Saturday’s clash against the undefeated home side.

Van der Westhuizen replaces injured Simphiwe Matanzima, while Grobbelaar swops places with Jaco Visagie, who reverts to the bench.

Wian Vosloo moves into the starting team as well to replace injured Marco van Staden.

In a fifth change to the pack, Andries Ferreira will start at lock, with Adre Smith moving back to the bench after being named a late starter against Tafel Lager Griquas when Ferreira was ruled out before kick-off.

Coach Pote Human left the backline intact, bar the Van Zyl swop with Embrose Papier, who will play off the bench.

Madot Makobela is the only newcomer on the bench, taking the place of Van der Westhuizen.

Human said although his hand was forced, it should not dampen the enthusiasm to face their Gauteng neighbours.

“The injury bogey did hit us hard and that on a weekend where one would have wanted to play with all your main players fit and ready. That said, the likes of Fred worked hard all season and now gets the chance to show what he can do. I would not have included him in our training squad in the first place if I did not trust his abilities,” Human said.

“We are now playing for pride and each player will have to show why they want to be part of this team in future.”

Van Zyl said the challenge is a huge one, but the team want to prove they belong.

“There are many if and buts when you look at our season, but ultimately the performances did not do justice to the effort of the coaching staff and the hopes of our supporters. We have two more rounds to redeem ourselves and everyone is determined to do just that and finish the season with some dignity and pride restored.”

The team is: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Ivan van Zyl (c), Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Fred Eksteen, Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen.

Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Madot Mabokela, Conraad van Vuuren, Adre Smith, Jean Droste, Embrose Papier, Marnitz Boshoff, Stedman Gans.