Matome Ramokgopa

Managing director, Enza Zaden South Africa

Born and raised in Ga-Ramokgopa, a village in Limpopo Province, Matome Ramokgopa did his schooling in Limpopo, which afforded him the chance to observe and assist his father tilling the land and rearing cattle. “This is where I developed a keen interest in agriculture and it has been my passion ever since,” he explains.

“I then went to study agricultural management at the Tshwane University of Technology, where among others, I specialised in agronomy, beef production and soil science. I did my experiential training at Dew Valley, which is one of the leading lettuce production and processing companies.”

Ramokgopa also studied at the Association of Veterinary and Crop Associations of South Africa (AVCaSA), with focus on crop and seed protection, as well as pesticides. Upon his appointment to the Hygrotech Technical Team as research technician, he became highly rated by both his employers and colleagues who described him as a wellknown face on Gauteng farms and passionate and meticulous in his trials. He was then appointed as a product manager, responsible for selecting and commercialising new varieties of iceberg and speciality lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. “I left Hygrotech to join Enza Zaden Export as its first employee in South Africa, as technical manager for southern Africa. Enza Zaden is one of the leading vegetable seed companies in the world, with an estimated 460-million people eating our varieties daily across the globe.

“Over the years Enza Zaden has given me numerous opportunities for personal development and to sharpen my abilities. My experience gathered through the years has empowered me and given me the confidence to climb the career ladder. This year I was appointed managing director of Enza Zaden South Africa and I am the youngest person to assume such a position within the company and also the youngest executive within the vegetable seed sector.

“Agriculture is the career I am most passionate about as it impacts positively on the world, including job creation, food security, environment and health. My position in the vegetable seed industry in more than a job — I regard it as a lifestyle that is in my fibre. “I get encouraged that the agricultural sector is among the major role players fighting unemployment. This passion has led me to assist some schools in Limpopo and Mpumalanga in establishing school vegetable gardens, assisting them to augment their funds through vegetable sales as well as feeding needy children.” Ramokgopa sits on the Horticultural Committee of the South African Seed Organisation. In 2016, he was selected to be among the top 12 people globally to attend the Young Entrepreneur Programme at the Enza Zaden Academy in the Netherlands. He was also selected to be among the 24 people to study a mini MBA in agricultural management at Stellenbosch University. “I see myself as a pioneer and amongst people who can shape the South African agricultural sector.”

— Rebecca Haynes

Twitter: @dukierm