20 Oct 2023
Grain SA celebrated excellence in grain production at its annual gala awards evening, held at The Maslow Hotel on Friday, 20 October 2023. This Grain Producer of the Year award for excellent grain production is an event of great significance in South Africa, with a rich history spanning 22 years. This award by Grain SA recognises the most effective and efficient grain producers in the country and goes far beyond just agriculture. The award also highlights the importance of a producer as a role model and his or her ability to promote profitable and sustainable grain production. Attended by grain producing guests of honour, senior governmental officials, representatives of the various agricultural Trusts, organised agriculture as well as captains of industry, the night proved once again a highlight on the agricultural calendar setting an example and serving as inspiration to fellow producers and industry.
An expert panel of judges, including an agronomist, an agricultural economist, and a soil expert, is involved, and this panel values the professional and effective management of resources in each area. The finalists are judged not only on grain production, but also on other aspects of farming, including diversification, overall management of the farming units, and their involvement in the agricultural community. The emphasis of this award is on effective and efficient grain cultivation, and it reminds of the necessity of sustainable grain production. Producers are measured by a range of criteria, including their management of resources, finance, marketing, agronomy, production practices, pest and weed control, mechanization, and labour management. It is a comprehensive evaluation that recognizes the multifaceted nature of successful grain production in South Africa.
The 2023 Grain SA/Syngenta Grain Producer of the Year was awarded to Pieter de Jager from Albertinia in the Western Cape.
Pieter de Jager joined the family farm in late 2003 after completing his MA studies in Agricultural Management. They bought the farm Wiehmansfontein near Albertinia, and still live there today. Initially, wool sheep, ostriches and chalk were the farming's primary source of income, while beef cattle and small grain only made up a small part of the turnover. Between the two de Jager brothers, the management of the livestock branches was divided as they lived around different farming units. Since 2010, Pieter began to focus more diligently on the grain branches with a view to better profitability. Today, about 80% of the farming is grain and 20% wool sheep and beef cattle. The de Jagers grow cash crops on dryland, of which wheat represents the largest plantings, followed by canola, radishes, and lupins. Pasture and planted pasture make up the sum of the farming operations. The livestock factor comprises a commercial wool sheep herd for slaughter lamb production and a smaller beef cattle herd for weanling calf production. Pieter believes in the uniqueness of the agricultural sector because of good leadership and a positive attitude. Agriculture tends to create opportunities and act proactively. “I am an example that success starts with each person himself, but a member organisation such as Grain SA, as a mouthpiece is non-negotiable to act on behalf of me as producer where I as an individual, does not have an impact on the macroeconomic policy platforms, the political field, legislation or the management of national resources,” de Jager said.
The other finalist in this category were Andries Els from Bothaville in the Free State.
The 2023 Grain SA/ABSA/John Deere Financial New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year was awarded to William Raphoto from Lichtenburg, in the North West. William brilliantly manages this diverse farming operation and along with 210 hectares of his own land, he leases an additional 300 hectares. The arable lands are utilised for rotating maize and soya; and William carefully monitors his deep, sandy loam soils. At the same time, he’s putting his degree in animal science to good use. He recently acquired a Simbra bull and is now set to compare the results with that of his Simmenthaler. He also keeps goats and Ile de France sheep, along with Dorpers, currently farmed solely for meat production. William, this year’s worthy recipient of a brand new John Deere 5075E MFWD tractor sponsored by John Deere Financial.
The other finalists in this category were Bothlale Tshabalala from Lichtenburg and Luvuyo Mbutho from Kokstad.
The 2023 Grain SA Potential Commercial Farmer of the Year was awarded to Philani Khoza from Dukuza, KwaZulu-Natal. Philani is a crop farmer, planting maize and soya. He attended an agricultural college in Mooi River to study agricultural management. Returning home in 2014, Philani started with a single hectare and have successfully grown to the current 82 hectares. Philani has plans to in the short term increase his leasing hectares and to consolidate his land to offset the vast overhead costs of moving from land to land. In the medium term, this producer has big plans to move his way up the commercial farming ladder, and acquiring his own land in the near future.
The other finalists in this category were Zoliwe Nombewu from Tsolo and Kopano Lentswetshipi from Lichtenburg.
The 2023 Grain SA/Landbank Smallholder Farmer of the Year was awarded to Nkosinathi Hadebe from Newcastle, in KwaZulu-Natal. Farming on communal lands adjacent to the Osizweni Township, Nathi is grateful to be his own boss. After spending most of his career as a policeman, he now focusses on patrolling the fields, investigating his maize and keeping an eye on the livestock. Nathi joined the local Grain SA study group in 2019, starting on 2 hectares of maize and has since expanded to 15 hectares, using his own equipment. Nathi is a member of the Eastborn Stockowners Association and rents 230 hectares of commercial grazing land, which proved a worthwhile investment to grow the weaner production side of the business.
The other finalists in this category were Mr SS Mahlinza from Utrecht and Amos Mahlangu from Carolina.
The 2023 Grain SA/ABSA/John Deere Financial Subsistence Farmer of the Year was awarded to Busisiwe Portia Msisibi from Volksrust in KwaZulu-Natal. Born and rooted in the Bethamoya community, she now farms on this piece of land which these days is administered by a CPA and farming equipment is shared by the community. Busi planted maize on 3 hectares along with half-a-hectare of dry beans during the current season. Business-minded, Busi is also the local representative for a input supplier in the area and looking forward to a total maize yield of about 14tons marketed through direct trade and an agribusiness.
The other finalists in this category were Thabisa Mthwayi from Maclear and Beauty Gumbi from Paulpietersburg.
In addition to these awards, Grain SA also used the opportunity to honour two inspirational individuals with the Grain SA Inspiration Award. Dr Reneé Prins, from Cengen was honoured for 20 years of industry contribution to the success of the barley and wheat industries of South Africa as the founder of Cengen. Furthermore, Jack Human received the award (posthumous) for pioneering introducing the concept of conservation agriculture, not only in the Western Cape, but also throughout South Africa.
Grain SA Communications
Alzena Gomes, Communication & Public Relations, Grain SA
082 463 4356 | firstname.lastname@example.org