The maxim “be humble, win big” fits the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa (TLU SA) Young Farmer of the Year, Danie Bester, unequivocally.
Even after this notable milestone he remains humble and grounded with no time to celebrate while he toils the soil of his farm, Rietbult, in Balfour, Mpumalanga.
Bester was named the winner of the TLU SA Young Farmer of the Year earlier this week (23 November 2020) in Silverton, Pretoria. His win garners him an overseas trip to the Manitou agricultural equipment factory in France, R25 000 in cash from Santam and R10 000 in cash from CMH Kempster Ford Hatfield.
Bester farms with corn, soybean and commercial Beefmaster cows. He impressively makes use of technology and his international collaboration and research on mostly soybeans.
Pinning the 36-year-old farmer down for an interview was an extremely difficult task as his list of responsibilities on his farm keep piling up. On the morning after his big win he was up before dawn again, as he had to plant some crops on his farm.
When asked how big his farm is, he chuckled, “I’d rather not say, but it keeps me busy”.
The father of two might be a very busy man, but he is never too busy to cultivate relationships because he believes that social cohesion is the crucial element for sustainable farming.
His journey into agriculture was almost inevitable because like most children who grew up on a farm, he started learning the ropes of farming when he was a little boy. He officially started farming after completing an agriculture course at the Potchefstroom College of Agriculture and has been farming on Rietbult farm for the past 12 years.
He takes care of the crops while his dad, Dawie, with whom he farms, takes care of the cattle.
5 Rapid-fire questions to Danie Bester
Congratulations on your win! How are you feeling? I am feeling very thankful, it’s an honour to have the title.
How does it feel to be a new generation farmer in South Africa? I think we as the new generation are fortunate to have access to new technology and more research than what previous generations had.
What are your views on social cohesion in the sector? It is important to work with a lot of different inputs. Meeting with suppliers, etc, is very important but even more important is having good communication and relationships with other farmers and role players to keeping each other updated.
Are you growing a beard for Movember? Haha, only gray hair! There’s too much work to do now in planting!
How did you end up in agriculture? It was an opportunity to farm with my dad. I really wanted to do it since I was young. You are born into farming.
What were some of the challenges you experienced when you started farming? The weather has always been a difficult part of farming. With the droughts we had to find ways to be more conservation orientated, and to do that the equipment needed came at a cost.