Wandile Sihlobo

Wandile Sihlobo is the Chief Economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz) and the author of two books, “A Country of Two Agricultures: The Disparities, The Challenges, The Solutions” and “Finding Common Ground: Land, Equity and Agriculture“. He is a Senior Lecturer Extraordinary at the Department of Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University. Sihlobo is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, and a Research Associate at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Rhodes University.

Sihlobo was appointed as a member of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Presidential Economic Advisory Council in 2019 (and re-appointed in 2022), having served on the Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture from 2018. He is also a member of the Council of Statistics of South Africa (Stats SA) and a Commissioner at the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC). Sihlobo is a columnist for Business Day, The Herald and Farmers Weekly magazine.

His weekly podcast, “Agricultural Market Viewpoint with Wandile Sihlobo“, is available on all podcast platforms. 

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Fort Hare and a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Stellenbosch University.

Talk Title: South Africa’s agriculture in times of weak global growth, geopolitical tensions, and domestic growth-constraining environment

Dr Theunis Morgenthal

Dr Theunis Morgenthal is a Production Scientist at the Natural Resource Inventories and Assessment Unit within the Land and Soil Management Directorate. Theunis is a Vegetation Ecologist with an interest in the use of remote sensing and spatial analysis. His work focuses on land degradation and improving sustainable agricultural practices for a better life for all in South Africa.

Talk Title: Strengthening decision support of livestock production systems using remote sensing technologies

Dr Edward Webb

Dr Edward Webb obtained the degrees BScAgric, BScAgric Honnours cum laude, MScAgric cum laude and PhD from the University of Pretoria, and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Ghent in Belgium and Nutrico in The Netherlands in 1997. He received several accolades for exceptional academic and research achievements, including the David Uys trophy. He is appointed as professor of Animal Science at Tarleton State University in the Texas A&M University System and the University of Pretoria. His teaching and research focus on the effects of environmental and management factors on production animal physiology and the related effects on carcass and meat quality. He has published 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers, presented 156 papers at conferences or symposia, 30 technical reports, co-edited two books, contributed 17 book chapters, 33 popular scientific papers and 1 patent. He contributed to the animal science industry by serving as president of the South African Society for Animal Science from 2009 to 2014.

Talk title: Strategies for Sustainable Animal Food Production: Examining Adaptation and Reproduction Dynamics

Prof Lourens J. Erasmus

Prof Lourens Erasmus obtained BSc, MSc and PhD degrees from the University of Pretoria. He joined the ARC, Irene in 1982 where he was a specialised researcher holding the position of Program Manager :
Dairy Cattle Nutrition. His research focus is on ruminant nutrition and his major research interests are:

- Protein and amino acid nutrition
- Rumen modifiers to improve the efficiency of nutrient utilisation
- Strategies to reduce the environmental impact of ruminants
- Optimum use of byproducts as sources of energy and highly digestible fiber in ruminant diets
- Evaluating nutritional models as tools for understanding animal biology and predicting animal performance

Prof Erasmus joined the Dept Animal Science at the Univ of Pretoria as an Associate Professor in 2002 until 2022 when he retired. He is a NRF rated scientist and his research has been published in 68 peer reviewed scientific journals. He has supervised 45 Masters and 5 PhD students and established exchange programs between the Univ of Pretoria and the Universities of Sassari in Italy and UC Davis in California.Prof Erasmus is a prior recipient of the silver medal of the South African Society of Animal Science and the Barney van Niekerk award for significant research contributions to the SA feed industry.

Talk Title: Nutritional and management strategies to mitigate the impacts of heat stress in cattle

Dr. Luiz Brito

Dr. Luiz Brito is an Associate Professor of Quantitative Genetics and Genomics in the Department of Animal Sciences at Purdue University in the United States. He received his bachelor’s degree in animal science and Master’s degree in Genetics and Animal Breeding from the Federal University of Vicosa in Brazil and his PhD in Quantitative Genomics from the University of Guelph in Canada, followed by a two-year postdoctoral training at the same university. Since joining Purdue University in 2018, his research program has focused on 1) the integration of multiple data sources (large-scale and high-throughput phenotypes and omics-derived datasets) to reveal the genetic basis underlying the phenotypic variability in livestock behavior, welfare, and climatic resilience; and 2) the development of selection methods and approaches to enable efficient incorporation of these traits into livestock breeding programs. He and collaborators have received >$16.6 million in external funding from federal competitive grants, and has published over 190 refereed articles, 170 abstracts, and >50 invited national and international presentations. His work has been cited more than 4,000 times, with a Google Scholar i-10 index of 98 and a h-index of 32. He is the co-chair of the US national Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP), member of the ADSA Genetics committee, and member of the editorial board of various journals. Dr. Brito is also involved in the training of the next generation of animal scientists, and he has been involved in the mentoring of 40+ graduate students and postdocs. He is currently mentoring 12 graduate students, 8 visiting scholars, and 6 postdoctoral researchers while also serving on the advisory committee of other 12 graduate students at Purdue University and in other institutions. He is also an adjunct faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, at the University of Guelph in Canada, and at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Talk title: Integrating large-scale phenotyping and quantitative genomics to improve livestock welfare and resilience

Brett Catherine

I am a 5th generation farmer from Dordrecht in the North Eastern Cape. I completed a BSc in Zoology, Entomology and Genetics from the University of Pretoria, before completing a BVSc at Onderstepoort, UP. I practiced as a livestock veterinarian for 15 years on three continents. I am currently the General Manager for DMO Beef.

Talk Title: Livestock disease trends within South Africa from a veterinarian’s perspective.

Bernard Makhabane

Bernard Makhabane obtained BSC Agric in Animal production at Fort Hare Univeristy. He is
very passionate community member who is involved in communal projects especially in wool production.

He is a Deputy Secretary and founding member of Utloanang Group scheme. Bernard has been involved in the project since 2012 to date. The project produces high quality wool, mutton and rams. He started farming in 1996 in one of the well known shearing shed(Bethania shearing shed) where he saw that shed members had less understanding on wool production. Hence, the formation of Utloanang Group Scheme. I admire flock competition as a yard stick that is used to gauge quality of wool sheep and the extent in which a shed has understood its main objective. Under his leadership Utlwanang has won many awards from local to provincial flock competitions. Bernard is very keen to see communal farmers across the province joining National Wool Growers Association (NWGA).

Bernard is also a secretary of Peace Committee that is live organization between Lesotho and South Africa in and Quthing. I helped to establish solid relat communal farmers in these two towns.

Talk title: The dynamics of communal wool farming in the Eastern Cape Province

Khanyiso Mzayifani

Khanyiso Mzayifani from King William's Town. I have a Diploma in Agriculture from Grootfontein College of Agriculture in Middelburg. I'm Currently working as a Production Advisor for the NWGA in the communal areas since 2017. I work in the O.R Tambo district Municipality know as NWGA Region 20.

Talk title: The dynamics of communal wool farming in the Eastern Cape Province

Tshilidzi Matshidzula

Tshilidzi is a young black South African Agriculture specialist with 18 years of experience and a successful businessman. The notion that says ‘never despise small beginnings’ best describes him. From running a herd of 49 cows (at the age of 19) to running two herds of over 2300 cows, moreover being a COO and shareholder of Matshibele (Pty)Ltd, the COO of Mountain Park Agri (Pty) Ltd and an owner of Redlands Farm. He has won numerous awards both locally and nationally; recent being the Agricultural Writers SA (New entrant to commercial farming) awarded in 2020 amongst many other awards such as Eastern Cape Toyota young farmer of the year, 2018 - #YAFF: Commercial (National), 2020- MPO Nedbank stewardship awards.

Talk title: The experiences of a developing dairy farmer in a challenging production environment

Gareth Bath

Gareth Bath has been involved in the livestock industry in South Africa for over 50 years, making innumerable contributions to the health, productivity and welfare of livestock, and the viability and profitability of livestock farming.

Livestock welfare has a long history in South Africa and its importance continues to grow. Gareth Bath represented the Onderstepoort Veterinary Faculty at the Livestock Welfare Coordinating Committee (LWCC) for 10 years from 2000 to 2009, and has been its Chairman for the past 15 years, during which time the LWCC has expanded its membership to the current 26 organisations that represent most facets of the livestock industry in South Africa, and that deal with a wide range of animal welfare issues, including the legislation enacted in South Africa affecting animal welfare, and how the LWCC facilitates consensus and the implementation of practical guidelines, codes, standards, regulations and laws to protect and promote the welfare of livestock. These activities affect all who are involved with livestock since welfare is essential to sustainable and acceptable livestock farming. Training, advising and auditing of farm management practices are emphasized.

He has played a leading role in educating veterinary students in the subject of animal welfare and advises many livestock organisations in the country on animal welfare matters, and he was a recipient of the World Veterinary Association’s Animal Welfare Award in 2020.

Panel discussion: The role of animal science to understand, advocate and uphold animal welfare

Nigel Lok

Tsitsikamma dairy farmer

Topic: Technology to efficiently manage large dairy farms.
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