Argus Fertilizer Africa Conference

Location TBC
February 2025

2024 Speakers

Mari Pennanen
Chief Business Development Officer, CBDO

Matchmaking potential port and transport corridor infrastructure projects for capital investment became part of Mari´s portfolio, when she joined couple of years ago APCH. The aim is to connect hinterland demand centres to major ports with world-class multi-modal logistics service providers, promoting sustainability and common user access. However, managing risks on investments are real challenges. Nevertheless, challenges in port and hinterland logistics have been Mari’s interest for two decades, so she is set for upcoming tasks as they come. Previously Mari worked more than 20 years in Tanzania, being part of the team, who built the first purpose build bulk fertilizer terminal in Sub Saharan Africa and set end-to-end terminal service from Dar es Salaam to Zambia using rail. Mari has MSc from University of Helsinki, Finland and several post-graduate studies in different European universities. She recently graduated from highly appreciated Leadership diploma programme with Aalto University at Uongozi institute.

Ben Valk
Global Head Food and Agri Partnerships , Rabobank (Executive Director, SustainAfrica)

Ben Valk is Global Head Food and Agri Partnerships for Rabobank. Rabobank’s international mission is to be the globally leading Food and Agri bank. Based on his previous roles in domestic and international banking and development of the agricultural sector, Ben maintains high level networks from which partnerships, aiming at Food System Transformation, are derived. As an example, Rabobank launched the AGRI3 Fund, a US$ 1 billion initiative for forest conservation and sustainable agriculture.

Hunter Swisher
CEO, Phospholutions

Hunter currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Phospholutions, Inc. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a BSc in Plant Sciences, where he was recognised as Top Entrepreneur at the university. He sits on the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Advisory Board for the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State University. Swisher founded Phospholutions, Inc. in 2016 to develop and commercialise solutions to improve the efficiency of global phosphorus use. Phospholutions, Inc. is headquartered in State College, PA.

Tshepo Chriswell Maeko
Principal Specialist, Product Development & Agronomy, Saudi Arabian Mining Company (MA'ADEN)

Tshepo is a growth-focused leader with extensive experience in identifying and creating sustainable agribusiness solutions/business models to drive sustainability and optimise natural resource management for new ventures and top-tier corporations. This is complemented by an MSc in Agriculture in Agronomy from the University of Pretoria (UP), South Africa, and further business qualifications from Harvard Business School and GIBS (UP). Tshepo has had repeated success driving efficiencies in marketing, business development and brand operations, while effectively managing P&L aspects to transform locations into profitable ventures. He had a track record of building, motivating and leading high-performing teams to attain critical business results with Omnia Fertilizer for 12 years as General Manager of New Business Development. Tshepo has a background in elevating top/bottom-line revenue, capitalising on business expansion opportunities, and maximising market share by interpreting brand vision into innovative selling processes with ABSA Bank, Africa Region Operations, as Vice-president and Head of Agribusiness. He has a proven capability of cultivating lucrative relationships, negotiating commercial contracts, and representing organisations in high-profile networking events. Currently, he heads Saudi Arabian mining company Ma’aden’s Product Development and Agronomy work division.

Patrick Heffer
Deputy Director General, IFA

Patrick Heffer joined the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) in Paris in 2002, where he is Senior Director of the Agriculture Service. In this capacity, he coordinates IFA’s global activities relating to fertilizer consumption. In addition, at the regional level, Patrick leads IFA’s Africa programme. More specifically, his duties focus on agronomic, market and policy issues that relate to fertilizer and nutrient management in a global context. Before joining IFA, Patrick spent 15 years with the seed industry, including five years in Switzerland at the joint secretariat of the International Seed Trade Federation and International Association of Plant Breeders (FIS/ASSINSEL), advancing to the position of Deputy Secretary General before his departure, and two years in Rome with the Seed and Plant Genetic Resources Service at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He has also worked at GNIS (French parastatal seed organization) in Poitiers, France and at the Hassan II Agronomic and Veterinary Institute in Rabat, Morocco.

Isaac Luseko
Commercial Manager, DSM Corridor Group

Armand Yoka
Trading Associate, ATEX

Trading associate at ATEX Africa, an innovative B2B platform powered by a collaboration between Afreximbank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) secretariat, and the African Union. His role involves forging long-lasting relationships with a variety of institutions to facilitate seamless trade across the continent. His focus is not only on building connections but also on the structural development of trade, enhancing the accessibility of financing for our users.

Reinder van der Meer
Director Marketing & Business Development, Cropnuts

Reinder is an entrepreneur who has set up numerous agricultural and food safety laboratories over the past 20 years on three continents for organisations including TNO, BLGG/Eurofins AgriQ and SoilCares. In the past five years, he has specialised in rolling out soil testing laboratories across Africa, building databases and apps to help farmers improve their production and restore soils.

Douglas Kerr
Vice President, Business Development, IFDC

Douglas joined IFDC in December 2020. He has almost 20 years’ experience in business development and has worked on programme design for clients including USAID, the US Department of State, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the US Department of Agriculture, and other bilateral donors, such as the UK’s Department for International Development (now the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), Global Affairs Canada, Germany’s GIZ and KfW, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the World Bank, African Development Bank and Asian Development Bank. Before joining IFDC, Kerr was Vice-President at US-based environmental consultant Ecodit, and before that he spearheaded business development at the National Cooperative Business Association, Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance, University Research Corporation, Social Impact, Abt Associates, JSI and Constella Futures (now Palladium). Douglas has a bachelor’s degree in politics and economics from Warwick University in the UK, a master’s in political science from Acadia University, Nova Scotia, and a PhD (ABD) from the University of Alberta, Canada.

Sebastian Nduva
AFO programme lead, International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC)

Sebastian is a fertilizer market specialist with a special focus on sub-Saharan African fertilizer market systems. He is currently the (AFO) programme lead at the IFDC. The AFO initiative collects, processes and publishes fertilizer-sector statistics for key fertilizer markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

Trevor Willis
Account Director, Optel Group

Tim Cheyne

Tim Cheyne
SVP - Global Head of Agriculture, Fertilizers, Ammonia, DEF, Argus

Tim is Senior Vice President for the fertilizer sector at Argus. Tim worked a process manager at an ammonia/urea plant in South Africa before moving to the UK to join KBR (then M.W. Kellogg) as a process engineer in the ammonia technology team. More recently Tim has covered fertilizer and industrial nitrogen as a market analyst.

Oliver Hatfield
VP Fertilizers, Argus

Oliver Hatfield, is VP Business Development for Argus Media in London. Oliver joined Argus in October 2018 following its acquisition of Integer Research, where he spent 15 years as head of the fertilizer market research team. Oliver has more than 20 years of experience in business analysis and consulting, and he was also one of the founders of Integer. Oliver has worked extensively on multi-client and bespoke fertilizer market analysis studies, covering market forecasts, strategy, due diligence, market entry and project feasibility. He has worked as an analyst on all the key fertilizer and related chemical markets: nitrogen, phosphates, potash, sulphur and sulphuric acid. Oliver is a graduate of economics and development economics from the University of Manchester in the UK.

David Maher
Editor - Fertilizers Europe and Fertilizer Africa, Argus

David is the editor of Fertilizer Europe (FE) and Fertilizer Africa at Argus, and has also worked as a market reporter for FE and the Argus potash report. He has almost 20 years of journalism experience, a first-class bachelor’s degree in philosophy and history, and a master’s in international politics from Trinity College Dublin. He was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, but has lived in London for the past six years. His interests include the natural sciences, philosophy, politics, history, geography, economics, sport, and using commas.