05 Oct 2017
Grain SA celebrated the successes of its farmer development programme during a jubilant event held in Bloemfontein today. The function, which was attended by more than 300 guests included government representatives, agricultural stakeholders and approximately 190 emerging grain producers. Consisting of four categories, the Day of Celebration honours Subsistence, Smallholder, Potential Commercial and New Era Commercial farmers and their contribution to the country’s food security. The Potential Commercial category is a new category introduced this year for farmers with access to more than 100 hectares of arable land, but currently not able to use all the available land, yet they are in a position to become 250 ton New Era Commercial Farmers. Since its inception in 2009, the Day of Celebration became a highlight on the calendars of the Grain SA farmers as well as the Farmer Development team. 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 2017 Grain SA/ABSA/John Deere Financial Subsistence Farmer of the Year was awarded to Mavis Nomvula Hlatshwayo from Hereford, Mpumalanga. Mavis joined Grain SA and became a study group member in 2005 and regularly attends study group meetings, workshops and courses organised by Grain SA. Mavis is a member of Sizanani Society, an organisation for female members only. They support each other and give donations to community members living below the bread line. This remarkable woman dreams of access to more land to farm on and to create job opportunities for the unemployed in her community. The other finalists in this category were Simphiwe Elliot Gumbi and Ghaasa Solomon Dhlongolo both from KwaZulu-Natal.
The 2017 Grain SA/Syngenta Smallholder Farmer of the Year was awarded to Thembalihle Hopewell Tobo from Bizana in the Eastern Cape. Tobo joined the military in 1986 and was a soldier for ten years before his love for the land brought him back to his roots in Nduge. He started farming with maize and livestock in 1996 and cultivates 25 ha of communal land and owns a tractor and the necessary implements. In the 2015/16 planting season Thembalihle planted 14 ha of dry land maize and despite the drought managed to harvest
41 tons. He also planted 2 ha under the Jobs Fund project on which his yield was 3,5 t/ha. He believes that with agricultural activities in the area, the prevailing poverty could be drastically alleviated and by working together the Ndunge and Bizana farmers could become the feeders of the nation. The other finalists in this category were Meluxolo Mfoxo from Ugie in the Eastern Cape and Hamu Samson Shuwisa from Sheepmoor in Mpumalanga.
The 2017 Grain SA/Monsanto Potential Commercial Farmer of the Year was awarded to Paul Mvelekweni Malindi from Edenville. Paul obtained the 441 ha farm Dankbaar, close to Edenville, through PLAS, joining Grain SA’s Farmer Development Programme. It took Paul a couple of years to realise that there are no short cuts in agriculture and things need to be done correctly or not at all. Malindi now leases land to graze his cattle on and planted 140 ha of sunflower and 180 ha of maize this season. Paul’s first priority is to take care of his family and workers. He believes in his own capabilities and the future of the South African agricultural sector. The other finalists in this category were Ruben Mothlabane from Bultfontein in the Free State and Tshediso Daniel Maqala from Ficksburg.
A highlight on the Grain SA calendar, and fondly referred to as the “Harvest of Farmers”, the 2017 Day of Celebration is a testimony to the investment of the organisation in farmer development.
The finalists for the 2017 Grain SA/ABSA/John Deere Financial New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year, introduced at the Day of Celebration is Vuyani Lolwane from Lichtenburg in the North West, Remember Wiseman Mthethwa from Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal and Edwin Thulo Mhahlatsi from Bothaville in the Free State. The winner will be announced at the Grain SA Gala Awards evening on 13 October 2017.
Grain SA would like to thank all sponsors for their contributions and convey our appreciation for their support.
Grain SA Communications
5 October 2017
Alzena Gomes, Public Relations Officer, Grain SA
086 004 7246 | firstname.lastname@example.org