13 Oct 2017
Grain SA celebrated the cream of the country’s grain producing crop during a prestigious gala awards evening, held at The Theatre on the Track in Midrand on Friday, 13 October 2017. This year’s awards ceremony commemorated the 18th year of the grain awards and was attended by Hon Ms Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology, senior governmental officials, representatives of the various Trusts, organised agriculture as well as academia, industry leaders and the guests of honour – our grain producers from around the country.
The awards evening give recognition to grain producers who form the basis of food security in South Africa. In addition, the finalists serve as excellent role models to the younger generation of producers whilst the image of the grain producer is enhanced. It further recognises successful grain producers who manage their businesses with such passion and dedication, so as to set an example and serve as inspiration to other producers.
The 2017 Grain SA/Syngenta Grain Producer of the Year was awarded to AC van Wyk, from Bultfontein in the Free State. Planting maize since childhood, Van Wyk’s roots date back to 1841 and following his completion of a B.Agric (HONS) at the UOFS, and a learning experience in the US, he returned to their farm, Warmhoek and has not looked back since. Favouring crop production, van Wyk plants only maize which is ideally suited to the majority of his approximately 6,000 ha of arable land, consisting of water table soils. He focusses much of his time and effort on both entrepreneurship and management, continuously planning based on value-estimation and profitability. In the Western Free State, maize as a single crop, can be planted profitably without damaging the soil as a resource, and agronomic sustainability can be achieved with a 15-20% of fellow lands.
The other finalists in this category were Willem & Hein Visagie from Visagie Boerdery in Porterville and Jan Boshoff from Delmas.
The 2017 Grain SA/ABSA/John Deere Financial New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year was awarded to Edwin Thulo Mahlatsi from Bothaville in the Free State. Edwin, walking away with a brand new John Deere 5065 MFWD OOS tractor sponsored by John Deere Financial is a grain producer on the farm Swartlaagte, which is where he grew up, later worked as a foreman, and in 2012, obtained a lease agreement on the farm through the government’s PLAS system. After joining Grain SA, Mahlatsi was able to put his 210 ha of good, arable soil to best use and having navigated through a difficult 2015/16 season, Mahlatsi’s maize this year yielded a substantial 5-and-half tons per hectare.
The other finalists in this category were Remember Mthethwa from Dundee and Lolwane Vuyani from Lichtenburg.
The 2017 Grain SA/Monsanto Potential Commercial Farmer of the Year 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. This recognition was awarded to Paul Malindi from Edenville in the Free State. In 2012, he was granted the use of this 440 hectare farm through the PLAS programme. Malindi planted 180 ha of maize and 140 ha of sunflower, with good yields. The other finalists in this category were Daniel Tshidiso and Ruben Mtlhanbae both from the Free State.
The 2017 Grain SA/Syngenta Smallholder Farmer of the Year was awarded to Thembalihle Tobo from Bizana. With good rains, Tobo harvested over 5tons per/ha on his 15 hectares of maize, of which twenty percent of his yellow maize is kept for the cattle and sheep, whilst the rest are sold in Kokstad. Tobo sells his white maize directly to a miller in Mbizana. Tobo further has a soya milk value-adding enterprise which is steadily growing. The other finalists in this category were Meluxolo Mfoxo from KwaZulu-Natal and Samson Shuwisa from Mpumalanga.
The 2017 Grain SA/ABSA/John Deere Financial Subsistence Farmer of the Year was awarded to Mavis Nomvula Hlatshwayo from Hereford. This 55-year old strong women, has with Grain SA’s guidance, introduced new farming methods enabling them to harvest around 8 tons p/ha. Currently planting two hectares of maize, Hlatshwayo is planning to expand and bring in dry beans as a rotation crop. Her plans includes a higher level in farming, wishing to increase the number of hectares to enable future growth. The other finalists in this category were Elliot Siphiwe Gumbi from KwaZulu-Natal and Solomon Ghasa Dhlongolo from Mpumalanga.
In addition to these awards, Grain SA also used the opportunity to honour Janes Barnard with the 2017 Grain SA Inspiration Award. Janes took the initiative to collect maize and fodder for farmers in the drought-stricken areas of Namaqualand and Boesmanland in the Northern Cape. He collected maize donations, stored it in their own silos and recruited funds to subsidise transport costs. Janes, van Vlakplaas Boerdery, and the 2011 Grain Producer of the Year, used the help of fellow farmers and agribusinesses in the Hoopstad district. This initiative encouraged Grain SA to also open accounts in conjunction with Agri businesses in the production areas. Thousands of tons of maize and feed were collected and distributed through this initiative. Janes inspired many others to reach out to fellow residents in distress. And what an amazing example of a former Grain Producer of the Year?
Grain SA Communications
13 October 2017
Alzena Gomes, Public Relations Officer, Grain SA
086 004 7246