It was all glitz and glamour at the inaugural Free State Youth in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (YAFF) Awards ceremony. The event saw some of the province’s brightest young movers and shakers in agriculture gather under one roof to be celebrated for their outstanding work in the sector.
The YAFF Awards, introduced by the national department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, forms part of department’s strategy to develop 2 500 youth-owned enterprises countrywide every year.
Sebusiso Skhosana, a 24-year-old farmer and founder of Skhosi Agri Farm, says he is over the moon for winning R50 000 in the MEC Special Awards category. With the prize money he plans to expand his business by building more infrastructure and further developing his farm. He says this will also enable him to employ more young people on his farm.
“With the prize we won we will fulfil the biggest [needs] we have, which are greenhouses, marketing, fertilisers, land and other assets,” he adds.
Skhosana currently runs a mixed farming operation that includes vegetables, livestock and broilers. “I started farming at a very early age in the backyard at home with my siblings. We have 183 sheep, 73 cows, 10 goats, two horses and broilers.”
The growth of his business was fuelled by his passion but also inspired by other local farmers. He now plans to expand his farm to commercial status and to become a major player on the local farming landscape.
Skhosana’s future plans include the development of young people like himself through mentoring and giving them access to all the information they might need to see success on their own farming journeys.
‘The sector is vibrant’
The awards ceremony was hosted by Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela and the agriculture and rural development MEC Thembeni Nxangisa.
Speaking at the event, Nxangisa said the intention of the awards is to recognise and reward young farmers who are showing excellence in the field of agriculture and the agro-processing value chain.
It is also to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of young people in the mainstream economy publicly.
“We need to dispel the misconception that agriculture is not vibrant,” said Nxangisa.
“It must be mentioned that the YAFF Awards are not a one-day event, it comes after a vigorous process of young farmers subjecting themselves and their farms to adjudication.”
Nxangisa added that the time is now for the youth to make meaningful contributions to the sector but, most importantly, to benefit from the current wave of change experienced in the country.
Winners announced in other categories included:
- Mokete Simon Lara of Lara General Dealer won in the subsistence category and took home R50 000.
- Itumeleng Matla of Reneilwe Matla Trading won in the smallholder category and received R100 000.
- Chantelle de Bruyn of the Buttercup Farmhouse agro-processing business won in the agro-processing category and received R100 000.
- Thato Cyril Thota of TC Trading and Thembalethu Mbusha of the Masincedane Trust received special recognition in the agricultural training institute category. Both walked away with R50 000.
- In the MEC Special Award category Tebello Ivonne Mokoena of Masela Lefika Farminng, Sibusiso Phillimon Skhosana of Skhosi Agri Farm Coop LTD and Tsoane Helen Maimane of Tholoana tsa Katlho each won R50 000.
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