Three Western Cape farmers are vying for the title as AHi Small-scale Farmer of the Year, one of the top award categories presented by a leading South African business chamber.
The AHi says it was moved by the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment of farmers Byron Booysen, Jo-andra Gregory and Sinethemba Botha.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the AHi (formerly the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut) decided to also include a special awards category to recognise the economic contribution of small-scale farmers.
While many small-scale and other food producers faced great difficulty in growing, harvesting and selling their goods, the AHI was struck by their resilience, says Dr Willie Cilliers, executive director of the AHi.
“Local food systems continued to operate despite the pandemic and were even strengthened by higher social capital and adaptive capacities. At a time of massive job losses, farmers also showed resilience and created much-needed jobs.”
Meet the finalists
Botha is a vegetable farmer in Malmesbury. In her garden of just 2 300 square meters, she cultivates everything from carrots and onions to spinach.
The Gugulethu-born agripreneur overcame the challenges of Covid-19 by turning to online sales and a YouTube channel.
Today, her business is in a better position than before the pandemic. Growyoown The Movement supplies fresh vegetables to no less than 25 outlets.
Gregory is a chicken farmer from Joostenbergvlakte, outside Kraaifontein.
Earlier this year, he was also a finalist in Agri Western Cape’s Young Farmer of the Year competition.
With a heart for agriculture and a head for entrepreneurship, Our Poultry Place, her “maternity leave project”, grew to unprecedented heights during the pandemic.
She also trains other new era farmers from across Mzansi.
She provides 12 000 day-old chicks and up to 6 000 chickens a month to other novice farmers.
Booysen may have been seen on the television reality show Boer soek ’n vrou a few years ago, but his Kraaifontein-based rental farm Avondrus is far removed from the glamorous world.
The Stellenbosch University graduate grows vegetables in a hydroponic system in a series of vegetable tunnels. The Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, describes him as one of the industry’s greatest assets.
How to vote for your fave
Cilliers says its panel of judges will only have 50% of the final vote to determine 2021’s AHi Small-scale Farmer of the Year. Members of the public can click here to virtually vote for their favourite candidate.
“With this year’s AHi awards, we want to honour entrepreneurs and business chambers who, despite the pandemic and all its challenges, have found innovative ways to reach their clients or members. The AHi awards are often the greatest recognition such small business owners receive.”