Dr Theo de Jager, executive board chairman of Saai, was re-elected as president of the World Agricultural Organisation (WAO) in Luxembourg on 21 May 2019.
In 2017 Dr De Jager was the first South African to be elected as president of the WAO and it is the first time in the organisation’s history that a president of this organisation serves for a second term and also was re-elected unanimously.
Dr De Jager was nominated for the post by Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), where he also is an honorary member. The WAO comprises a number of agricultural organisations and agricultural partnerships and represents about 1,4 billion farmers of 54 countries around the world. The WAO also represents the agricultural community at the United Nations (UN) and its initiatives.
Since 2017 Dr De Jager has been lobbying international support much wider than from the agricultural community for a farmer-driven agenda for climate change, which was met with much approval by the UN and its agencies. He is committed to continue working on this agenda to submit a global civil proposal to the UN on behalf of farmers. Following several meetings with the European Union and Russian agricultural unions, and against the background of increasing trade tension, he sees the protection of farmers’ access to markets, especially in perishable food products, as a priority for his second term. He believes the digitalisation of agriculture holds huge opportunities for Africa, and he is a prominent champion for modernising, mechanising and commercialising small-scale agriculture via partnership models in communal Africa.
“Dr De Jager is a highly respected agriculture leader and is highly regarded all over the world for his leadership, expertise and farsightedness in particular. South Africa is blessed to have a leader of his calibre in our midst. His high esteem among world leaders, and not only in agriculture, is seen, recognised and appreciated everywhere,” said Leon Borcherds, director of Saai, following the announcement.
“Saai wishes to congratulate Dr De Jager on his re-election. During his first term as president of the WAO he visited several agricultural structures across the world and he could see at first hand how structures are functioning in other regions, and also what is the most effective and sustainable model for organising agriculture. Saai is the product of this. As cofounder member, Dr De Jager based Saai as interest network on a national unity structure using digital technology and network agreements to serve the interests of family farmers,” said Francois Rossouw, chief executive officer of Saai.
Dr De Jager is a former president of Agri Limpopo, the Pan African Farmers Organisation (Pafo) and the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (Sacau) and former vice-president of Agri SA. Currently he also serves as chairman of Agri All Africa, the organisation protecting and promoting the interests of South African and Zimbabwean farmers in Africa.