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A WORD FROM… the Grain Producer finalists

April 2023

The three finalists for the 2022 Grain SA/Syngenta Grain Producer of the Year award: André Brink, JP Meintjes and Gideon Koegelenberg.

If there is one thing the finalists of the 2022 Grain SA/Syngenta Grain Producer of the year agree on, is that it takes hard work to become a successful farmer. To remain successful, planning and time management are key. They share their tips with readers: 

‘Believe in yourself and work hard. There is no short cut to success,’ says Gideon Koegelenberg from Makwassie in North West who started farming when he was in highschool. JP Meintjes from Viljoenskroon in the Free State adds that long hours are just part of the job description when it comes to farming. JP had to take over the family farm in 2009 after losing both his father and brother. 

André Brink, a fourth generation farmer from Bellville in the Western Cape, believes that you cannot become successful without being a hands-on farmer. He is also a firm believer in the importance of planning ahead and agrees with the saying: ‘Failing to plan, is planning to fail!’ Time management is of the utmost importance in Gideon’s farming enterprise. He also believes that when you prioritise things that need to be done, it is easier to do them on time. JP supports this advice. ‘The timing of any process on the farm is extremely important. It can cost you dearly if you do something too early or too late.’ 

‘If you lack the passion for farming no advice will be of any use to you. You have to love farming to survive as a farmer. If you are not passionate about agriculture, you will never be a farmer,’ says JP. He adds that farming is not a career with office hours. ‘You have to think of your farming enterprise every minute of the day – even just before you close your eyes to go to sleep.’ André agrees and adds that you also have to know what is going on with your farming operation’s finances. ‘Your books have to be accurate to keep your farm profitable.’

Not one of these commercial producers could have made it on their own and all have someone who showed them the ropes. They have never been scared to ask for advice and to learn from others. Gideon encourages farmers to make use of mentorship programmes that are available. ‘Build a good relationship with commercial farmers in your area as they understand the challenges and can give good advice on how to overcome these,’ he adds. André is quick to add: ‘Value your whole team as they are the ones who contribute to your success.’ 

Publication: April 2023

Section: Pula/Imvula