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.

Dr Theo de Jager

World Agricultural Organisation

In 2017 De Jager was the first South African to be elected as president of the WAO. It is the first time in the organisation’s history that a president of this organisation will serve for a second term. His re-election was unanimous.

He was nominated for the post by Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), where he also is an honorary member. The WAO comprises of a number of agricultural organisations and agricultural partnerships. It 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.

Farmers’ needs are a top priority

Since 2017 De Jager has been lobbying international support much wider than from the agricultural community, for a farmer-driven agenda for climate change. This was met with much approval by the UN and its agencies. He is committed to continue working on submitting 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. Hence he is a prominent champion for modernising, mechanising and commercialising small-scale agriculture via partnership models in communal Africa.

Support from Saai

“Dr De Jager is a highly respected agriculture leader and is highly regarded across 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, 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. Here he could see first-hand how structures are functioning in other regions, and what the most effective and sustainable model for organised agriculture is.

“Saai is the product of this. As a cofounding member, Dr De Jager based Saai 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.

Former accolades

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). He is also a former vice-president of Agri SA. Currently he serves as chairman of Agri All Africa, an organisation protecting and promoting the interests of South African and Zimbabwean farmers in Africa. – Press release