A agri writ­ers an­nounce top farm­ers for 2018

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Contents -

South Africa’s largest ap­ple pro­ducer has been named the Agri­cul­tural Writ­ers of South Africa’s Farmer of the Year for 2018. At a gala event held in Stel­len­bosch re­cently, the award was pre­sented to Pi­eter Graaff, who farms ap­ples and other fruit in the Witzen­berg re­gion near Ceres. Graaff, who pro­duced more than 46 700t of ap­ples in 2018 through his Witzen­berg Prop­er­ties hold­ings, is also the chair­per­son of Tru-Cape Fruit Mar­ket­ing, the largest ex­porter of South African ap­ples and pears.

Witzen­berg Prop­er­ties con­sists of six farm­ing units that are sit­u­ated in four unique cli­matic zones within the Ceres area, spread­ing the cli­mate risk of the farm­ing busi­ness. Each of the six units are op­er­ated in­de­pen­dently with its own in­fra­struc­ture. The busi­nesses’ other farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude the cul­ti­va­tion of pears, nec­tarines, peaches, cher­ries, wine grapes, veg­eta­bles, grain, forestry (as well as a sawmill), cat­tle, sheep and a Thor­ough­bred horse stud.

Ac­cept­ing the award, Graaff, who took over the farm­ing busi­ness from his fa­ther

Dr Jan Graaff in 1984, said the pri­mary agri­cul­tural in­dus­try in South Africa was built on the foun­da­tion of solid fam­ily val­ues.

“Farm­ing is a people busi­ness. You rely on the trust­wor­thi­ness of your staff. “As a farmer you need to take care of the people who work for you and show an in­ter­est in ev­ery staff mem­ber on your farm.

If you show an in­ter­est in their well-be­ing, they will show an in­ter­est in the well-be­ing of your busi­ness,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Graaff, agri­cul­ture was not the easy so­lu­tion to the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment and job cre­ation chal­lenges, as was of­ten made out by politi­cians.

“It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to suc­ceed in agri­cul­ture.

‘ farm­ers need to take care of the people who work for them’

“Farm­ing is not a quick fix for the prob­lems our coun­try faces.”

Other awards pre­sented by the Agri­cul­tural Writ­ers of South Africa on the evening were the 2018 New En­trant into Com­mer­cial Agri­cul­ture, awarded to Leonard Mavhugu, a dairy farmer from the for­mer Ciskei re­gion of the Eastern Cape, and the 2018 Agri­cul­tur­ist of the Year, awarded to agri­cul­tural econ­o­mist Wandile Sihlobo.

Mavhugu is the se­nior pro­duc­tion man­ager at the trans­for­ma­tion dairy busi­ness, Amadlelo Agri.

The busi­ness runs about 4 000 in-milk cows on 1 100ha and em­ploys about 100 people.

Sihlobo is the head of agribusiness re­search at Ag­biz. He was re­cently ap­pointed to Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s ad­vi­sory panel to ad­vise and sup­port the in­ter-min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee on land re­form.

The main spon­sors of the event were Bayer, San­tam Agri­cul­ture, San­lam and Rovic Leers. – Denene Eras­mus

Denene Eras­mus

BE­LOW: The Agri­cul­tural Writ­ers of South Africa’s award win­ners for 2018 are (from left): Leonard Mavhugu (New En­trant into Com­mer­cial Agri­cul­ture), Pi­eter Graaff (Farmer of the Year), and Wandile Sihlobo (Agri­cul­tur­ist of the Year).

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