Young farmers win big at agri awards

The 17th installment of the Toyota SA and Agri SA National Young Farmer of the Year awards saw two top farmers each driving away with a brand new Toyota Hilux workhorse.

Every year farmers under the age of 40 enter the agri awards and go through a gruelling judging and evaluation process. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Every year farmers under the age of 40 enter the agri awards and go through a gruelling judging and evaluation process. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Northern Cape farmer Gerhard Bruwer was crowned as the winner at this year’s Toyota SA and Agri SA National Young Farmer of the Year awards. The Western Cape’s Beverley Joseph walked away with the title of new harvester of the year.

The two worthy winners who competed for the coveted titles against other promising young farmers from all nine provinces, each drove away with a brand new Toyota Hilux single cab, among other prizes.

Bruwer farms with maize, wheat, barley, sunflowers, potatoes, lucerne, pecans, beef cattle, peanuts, onions and grapes in the Douglas region of the Northern Cape.

Accepting his award, Bruwer said agriculture is his passion and because he loves farming, toiling the land did not feel like work to him.

Gerhard Bruwer, Toyota SA and Agri SA national young farmer of the year 2021. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

“I’ve got a great support system and I just want to thank all my workers on the farm – there are so many of them, so I won’t mention names. I also want to thank Toyota South Africa for backing [local] farmers. I also want to thank organised agriculture. You don’t have the easiest conversations behind closed doors and as farmers we count on you,” Bruwer said.

Joseph accepted her new harvester of the year award by thanking Agri SA and Toyota South Africa for taking note of her. She added that as a young farmer this was a major opportunity for her.

Joseph farms with hops and proteas in the George region in the Western Cape. She was nominated by Dr Hamman Oosthuizen of optimal agricultural business systems (OABS).

“As farmers we wake up early in the mornings but we do it because we love it and don’t see it as work,” Joseph said.

“This trophy I want to dedicate to all the women in agriculture. It’s not an easy environment and you must have hair on your teeth. Someone once told me that when opportunity knocks on your door, you must be ready to open the door and welcome it in. I want to encourage every woman to prepare themselves for those opportunities so that you can be ready to allow it in,” Joseph added.

Farmers lauded as dynamic

Every year farmers under the age of 40 enter the agri awards and go through a gruelling judging and evaluation process.

Farmers are judged on their agricultural practices and evaluated on all aspects of their business, including their overall vision for the future of their farming business.

The main feature on which the entrants are judged is their management philosophy, as well as the technical competence with which this philosophy is applied.

Jaco Minnaar, president of Agri SA, delivered a keynote speech and acknowledged the important role that farmers and agri workers play.

“We must acknowledge the role of our young farmers and the finalists of the new harvest competitions. In my view the finalists of these competitions are not only successful farmers but dynamic business people,” he said.

Beverley Joseph was crowned as new harvester of the year. Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Minnaar added that farmers also showed that they are agile and have embraced innovative technologies in such a way that they can approach the future with realism and confidence. This, he believes, will take the sector forward.  

He also said that for farmers to advance as finalists in the young farmers competition and the new harvest competition, was truly an amazing achievement.

“Your enthusiasm, energy and commitment towards agriculture should also serve as inspiration to other people who want to enter the sector. You have shown that you understand the dynamics of the sector.”

Minnaar added that he believed that all farmers in attendance had the opportunity to not only to be successful producers, but to add real value. Not just for themselves but also to their communities.

Thanking Toyota South Africa for their involvement, Minnaar said, “Toyota’s investment is not only in the lives and livelihoods of a young and developing farmer, but also in the sector as a whole and the greater SA economy.”

The motor company’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, Leon Theron, applauded food producers present for keeping South Africans fed during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“I saw what farming communities and farmers did when this virus hit this country. You stood together, helped people in need and helped other farmers. We as a brand can associate with that and that’s why it is so important for us to be part of this [awards ceremony].”

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