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Grain SA celebrates Farmer Development

23 Sep 2016

Grain SA celebrated the successes of its farmer development programme during a joyous event held in Bloemfontein yesterday. The function, which was attended by more than 250 guests included government representatives, agricultural stakeholders and approximately 160 emerging grain producers. Consisting of three categories, the Day of Celebration honours Subsistence, Smallholder and New Era Commercial farmers and their contribution to the country’s food security. With so many success stories, the Day of Celebration provided Grain SA with the opportunity to celebrate farmer development, recognise excellence in the field and acknowledge transformation in grain production.

The 2016 Grain SA/ABSA Subsistence Farmer of the Year was awarded to Mzwayi David Zuma from Estcort, KwaZulu-Natal. This kind grandfather and hardworking farmer has grown his maize harvest substantially after enrolling in the Grain SA mentor programme. With increased production and mechanisation this husband- and wife team have access to 10ha of arable communal land used for planting maize and soya. Despite this year’s drought, their harvest did 22tons of maize from 8ha planted – all done by hand. With a new maize thresher, forming part of an initiative by Grain SA, government and Agri business who joined forces to increase yields on communal land – the Zuma’s now have more productive ways to get the maize of the crop. The other finalists in this category were Delisile Nkosi from Sheepmoor in Mpumalanga and Isaac Hltshwayo from Piet Retief in KwaZulu-Natal.

The 2016 Grain SA/Syngenta Smallholder Farmer of the Year was awarded to Sizwe Ngwenya from Piet Retief in Mpumalanga. This 31-year old ambitious farmer is making his way to commercial farming – building on the 50ha he got from his father and making most of the arable soil. Sizwe has big plans wanting to produce grain for export. After joining the Grain SA Farmer Development programme, Sizwe has increased his maize yields from 1ton/ha to 4ton/ha. Yielding 250 ton this year – all harvested by hand – his crop pays testimony to his farming and conservation practices which include soil management with a strong focus on pH and nutritional balancing. His future plans include to expand his farming operations to plant on 100ha in the not too distant future. The other finalists in this category were Thembelihle Tobo from Bizana in the Eastern Cape and Hamu Shuwisa from Sheepmoor in Mpumalanga.

Recognising the vital role of those farmers who do not have large pieces of land to cultivate, Grain SA Farmer Development Programme Manager, Jane McPherson said the standard is rising every year in all the categories. “So many farmers want to enter and want to be included and each person’s story is different and inspirational. In this competition, men and women compete equally and the women are reaching the levels of excellence”, McPherson said.

A highlight on the Grain SA calendar, and fondly referred to as the “Harvest of Farmers”, the 2016 Day of Celebration is a testimony to the investment of the organisation in farmer development over the past ten years. In thanking the Grain SA partners, financiers, sponsors and stakeholders, Jannie de Villiers, CEO of Grain SA reiterated “the Farmer Development Programme has metaphorically prepared the soil and established what is needed to assist developing grain farmers, and the training and mentorship given were the seeds which were planted in order to yield exceptional grain producers – those we can honour here today.” De Villiers further thanked each grain producer who are prepared to be mentored and taught in order to improve year after year.

The finalists for the 2016 Grain SA/ABSA/John Deere Financial New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year, introduced at the Day of Celebration is Frans Mokoena from Tweespruit in the Free State, Zondiwe Motshwene from Emalahleni in Mpumalanga and Maseli Letuka from Kestell in the Free State, and the winner will be announced at the Grain SA Gala Awards evening on 14 October 20106.

Grain SA would like to thank all sponsors for their contributions and convey our appreciation for their support.

Issued by:
Grain SA Communications
23 September 2016

Further enquiries:
Alzena Gomes, Public Relations Officer, Grain SA
086 004 7246 | alzena.gomes@grainsa.co.za