GrainSA/Syngenta Grain Producer of the Year 2014
Grain SA celebrates South Africa’s distinguished grain producers with the announcement of the 2014 Grain Producer of the Year Awards
The 2014 Grain SA/Syngenta Grain Producer of the Year was awarded to Richard Carey Hobson of Nonen Ranch, situated in Setlagole in the North West Province. After completion of his studies, Richard started farming with his father Carey on the farm Papiesvlakte, and following the acquisition of Nonen Ranch in Setlagole in 2002, took full responsibility for the farming operations and its subsequent significant expansion. Under the expert management of Richard, the farming operation forms an integral part of the Botselo Holdings group, comprising 10 450 hectares, spread over the three farms, namely Nonen Ranch, Papiesvlakte and Lawn. Botselo Farming forms part of Botselo Holdings which includes Botselo Mills, Botselo Grain and Botselo Carriers. In 2006 Richard started with conservation agriculture that led to significant increases in profitability and sustainability of each of his diversifications.
The other finalists in this category were Trevor Egon Zunckel from Bergville and the Blanckenberg family from Durbanville.
The judges were faced with a difficult task since all finalists are exceptional producers with diverse management styles. This category gives recognition to 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 2014 Grain SA/ABSA New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year was awarded to Ralph Swart of Swart Boerdery situated in Elim, Western Cape. Ralph, the first ever finalist, and subsequent winner from the Western Cape, produces wheat, barley, oats, triticale and rooibos tea and has been farming on his own for the past 33 years and is the third generation farming on the same land. Ralph has a passion for agriculture and is a true entrepreneur, always willing to assist smaller farmers in his area with equipment and advice.
The other finalists in this category were Pieter Chabalala from Puthaditjhaba, Michael Ramoholi from Theunissen and Job Metswamere from Delareyville.
The 2014 Grain SA/Syngenta Smallholder Farmer of the Year was awarded to Lungelwa Kama from Maclear in the Eastern Cape.
Lungelwa started farming by buying a small herd of cattle and due to a lack of grazing, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform made a farm and few implements available to her – just what Lungelwa needed to get going on the road to commercial farming. Lungelwa has since been able to rent an additional 70 ha of good arable land in addition to the 35 ha she received from the Department and this year planted 100 ha of maize, with expected yields in some areas exceeding 8 tons/ha.
The other finalists in this category were the Dwaalkraal Co-operative from Sannieshof, Langa Simon Mbele from Bergville and Willem Modukanele from Welkom.
The 2014 Grain SA/ABSA Subsistence Farmer of the Year was awarded to Enoch Khumalo from Piet Retief. Enoch grew up in a rural area and worked on a farm for about 30 years, mainly with sheep and cattle. In 2009, Enoch joined the Donkerhoek Study Group when it was formed whilst also attending various training courses. This year, Enoch planted 3 ha and although he has access to 6 ha, a lack of funds hindered his plans to plant the entire area.
Even so, the planted crop responded well to his management with expectations to harvest in excess of 6 ton/ha.
The other finalists in this category were Gladys Phatheleni Zondo and Thoko Matha Mofokeng, both from Winterton.
In addition to these awards, Grain SA also used the opportunity to honour the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) with an Inspiration Award, in appreciation of its continuous contributions to the grain industry, excelling to achieve extraordinary results and inspiring the industry to be more competitive in its commitment to excellence.
Grain SA further honoured three of its past-Executives in recognition for outstanding leadership. Recognition to the previous Chairperson of Grain SA, Neels Ferreira, as the highest honour bestowed by Grain SA, was awarded for his vision and outstanding leadership, locally and internationally, in the interest of all grain and oilseed producers of South Africa.
Gert Pretorius (Posthumous), was honoured for his leadership in the unification and establishment of Grain SA. His outstanding contribution to the oilseed industry in particular, locally and internationally was recognised. Willie Pretorius received the honour on behalf of his late father. Fanie van Zyl was honoured for his leadership to Grain SA and as Chairman of the Audit Committee, for his ground breaking work for the establishment of best management practices and the development of policies and procedures for Grain SA.