Selected Profile from Directory

Photo of Langelihle Simela

Langelihle Simela

Chief Executive Officer, National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (NERPO), South Africa

South Africa

What most impressed the professional colleagues who nominated this role model?

Langelihle Simela has demonstrated highly dedicated commitment to the development of the smallholder agricultural sector in Southern Africa, through her research, her organizational skills and her active support for agribusiness entrepreneurs.  At NERPO, she has been instrumental in facilitating the development of commercially-orientated livestock production and improving market access for smallholder farmers in South Africa.  Together with her colleagues at NERPO, she has facilitated the development of an association, with strong institutional capacity for lobbying and advocacy on behalf of the smallholder livestock farmers, from local through to national level.

Following their success with the livestock farmers, Langa and her colleagues went on to organize the rest of the smallholder farmer community of South Africa into the African Farmers’Association of South Africa (AFASA) in 2010. As one of the few women in leadership positions within the agricultural sector, she serves as a high-profile role model and frequent motivational speaker promoting skills development, mentorship and capacity building for smallholder livestock farmers and the youth.

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • I grew up in a farming environment, milking cows, working in the fields and leading oxen when ploughing the soil. I love working with the animals.
  •  The extension officers working in the village was always around and working with the farmers. I realized the impact of their work and wanted to pursue a similar career in agriculture.

How can agricultural education institutions more effectively prepare African students for successful agribusiness careers? 

  • Students need more hands-on training because a large number of them do not come from an agricultural back ground and so are ill acquainted with day to day farm management.
  • Students need mentorship and coaching.
  • Make sure students understand that farming is a business and approach it as such in their career as advisors, researchers and teachers.

Career highlights

  • Chief Executive Officer, National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (NERPO), South Africa, 2011 to present.
  • Production Theme Leader in the Institute of Food Nutrition & Well-being, University of Pretoria, 2013 to present.
  • Founding Executive Director: African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA), 2011 to present.
  • Executive Director and Programme Manager: Farmer Support and Youth Development, NERPO, 2007 –2011.
  • Young Professional Officer of the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2003 - 2004.
  • Technical Manager, Linds Agricultural Services, Harare, Zimbabwe, 1997 - 1999.
  • Research Fellow, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zimbabwe, 1994.

Educational background

  • Primary school:                     
    • Attended six different primary schools, starting with Nonkwane Primary School in Nswazi Village, Esigodini, Zimbabwe.
  • Secondary school:     
    • Townsend High School, Bulawayo.   
  • University:     
    • BSc. Agriculture (Hons) Animal Science, University of Zimbabwe, 1993.
    • MSc. Animal Science, University of Zimbabwe, 1996.
    • MSc. Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, South Africa, 2012.
    • PhD Animal Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa, 2005.