Syngenta Potato Farmer of the Year 2013
Mr Ernst Yzel, Chairperson of Potatoes South Africa, the Potato Farmer of the Year, Mr Johan van Zyl and Mr Antonie Delport, Managing Director of Syngenta, main sponsor of Potatoes South Africa Congress and Potato Farmer of the Year 2013.
Announcement of Syngenta Potato Farmer of the Year 2013
Mr Johan van Zyl from Van Zyl Boerdery, Warden, Eastern Free Sate was appointed as the South African Potato Farmer of the Year during the Potato South Africa Conference on Wednesday 11 September 2013.
It is the first time since the inception of The Potato Farmer of the Year in 1987, that a dry land potato farmer received the award. The Potato Farmer of the Year is sponsored by Syngenta with the aim to acknowledge potato farmers whose farming enterprises performs exceptionally well. Farmers are nominated for the award by their fellow regional farmers where after an evaluation committee is tasked to evaluate and choose a winning potato farmer of the year.
This year’s competition was between three extraordinary farmers with diverse production specialties. The other two candidates were Mr Chris Dwen from Super Spud Potatoes, Underberg and Mr Charl du Toit from KBY Boerdery in the Koue Bokkeveld.
Van Zyl Boerdery cultivates potatoes under dryland conditions due to the topography of the potato fields. A mere 25 hectares are under irrigation and through leasing additional land, a four year rotation period is made possible. Only certified seed potatoes are planted.
Mr Van Zyl is closely involved in cultivar and other potato production trials conducted by the Eastern Free State Potato Workgroup. Before any cultivar is planted, or a product is used, or production practices are implemented, its mettle must first be proven during trials.
The bulk of the Van Zyl Boerdery potato crop is marketed through the fresh produce markets and delivered to the potato processing industry. The cream of the crop are marketed in special windowed bags.
Mr Van Zyl has been a potato farmer all his life and has no desire to be anything else. He said: “It is a privilege and honour to be selected as the National Potato Farmer of the Year. The potato industry is challenging. This award is not due to my efforts alone, it was a team effort. Without the support of my family, industry, the workers on the farm and, most of all, the grace of God, the success of Van Zyl Boerdery would not be possible”.