I sat down with John Purchase to talk about the state of the agriculture industry in South Africa. We cover the current crippling drought, El Nino, GMO crops, the state of food security and policy decisions around land reform. Plus – Should we be farming Rhinos!
I must point out I spoke to John in early December 2015 so some of the comments about future rain are based on the interview date. As many listeners will know the hoped for rain did not fall and the drought has worsened over the country.
John is currently CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) of South Africa, having been appointed to the position in 2007. Prior to taking up the position with Agbiz, he was the CEO of Grain South Africa. He started his professional career as a scientist in South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council (ARC).
John was appointed to the Board of the Land & Agricultural Bank of South Africa in July 2012, as well as appointed as Council Member to the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) by the South African Cabinet. John is the current chairman of the CEO Forum, a forum of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in which the CEO’s and MD’s of agribusinesses and organized agriculture meet with the Minister and senior executives of DAFF (government) to address the critical and strategic challenges facing the broader agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries of South Africa.
He serves on various Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) committees and NEDLAC task teams with regard to policy and legislation matters impacting on the agro-food industry, such as co-operatives legislation, consumer protection legislation (GM labelling), climate change and carbon tax policy, land reform policy and legislation, spatial planning and land use management legislation and expropriation legislation.
Among other awards, he received the 2011 Alumnus of the Year award from the University of the Free State, as well as the 2012 South African Agriculturalist of the Year Award from the South African Agricultural Writers Association. In June 2013 he was also elected to the Board of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association.