A lot to celebrate in FARMER DEVELOPMENT

Valerie Cilliers, editor, SA Graan/Grain
Published: 6 November 2023

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One of the most colourful days on the Grain SA calendar is the annual Day of Celebration. The aim of the event is to give recognition to emerging farmers who are part of the PGP Farmer Development Programme and who excel in their respective categories.

The event – held on 20 September at NAMPO Park this year – was no exception as the festive atmosphere and colourful traditional attire worn by many of the participants once again highlighted the rich diversity of South African agriculture.

The head of Phahama Grain Phakama (PGP), Dr Sandile Ngcamphalala, and Jeremia Mathebula, vice-chairperson of Grain SA, launched PGP during the event. PGP is an independent arm of Grain SA and forms one of the core business units of the organisation. The aim of the programme is to equip individual farming enterprises towards becoming self-sustainable and to make a significant contribution to the national goal of a united and prosperous agricultural sector.

Dr Ngcamphalala reiterated the importance of celebrating the successes of the programme and the hard work of all involved in training and mentoring emerging farmers.

Sponsor representatives, Dr Langelihle Simela (business development manager: Absa AgriBusiness Centre of Excellence), Sakhumzi­ May (acting executive manager: Agricultural Economics and Advisory, Land Bank), Dr Nolwazi Mkize (regulatory lead for Africa, Bayer), Diale Tilo (executive director, Kgodiso Development Fund), Fortune Mathiba (operations manager at John Deere Financial), Andries Wiese (Hollard Insure) and Marthinus Loock (senior manager: AgriBusiness at Standard Bank) took turns to speak about the importance of farmer development and the role each of these organisations play in partnership with Grain SA.

In preparation of the event, judges travelled to all ends of South Africa to identify finalists in the following categories: PGP/Absa/John Deere Financial New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year; PGP Potential Commercial Farmer of the Year; PGP/Land Bank Smallholder Farmer of the Year; PGP/Absa/John Deere Financial Subsistence Farmer of the Year.

Celebrating excellence
PGP/Absa/John Deere Financial New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year
The highlight of the event is the announcement of the PGP/Absa/John Deere Financial New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year. This year William Setlaba Raphoto from Lichtenburg walked away with this prestigious award. He won a brand-new John Deere 5075E utility tractor, a versatile piece of machinery to help expand his tractor fleet.

Raphoto farms with maize and sunflower on 510 ha (210 of his own land) near Lichtenburg in the North West. He became a member of Grain SA in 2005 and is a client of regional development manager, Du Toit van der Westhuizen. He joined the 500 Ton Club this year. ‘William is a hard worker who is keen to learn and improve. He is always open to learn from others, has never been afraid to ask for advice and then apply what he learns,’ Van der Westhuizen said.

Raphoto’s advice to farmers is to take responsibility, do the right thing at the right time and to be open to new methods of farming.

PGP Potential Commercial Farmer of the Year
The 2023 PGP Potential Commercial Farmer of the Year is Philani Khoza, a dedicated crop farmer from Dukuza in KwaZulu-Natal, who plants maize and soybeans. Khoza studied agricultural management at an agricultural college in Mooi River, where he says he obtained the knowledge and inspiration to start farming. Although he has worked on commercial farms before, his lack of grain farming experience led him to Grain SA in 2014. Through the mentoring programme he started to plant 1 ha which has since increased to 82 ha. His future plans are to increase the hectares of commercial land he is currently renting near Bergville and to eventually acquire his own land, which will move him closer to becoming a commercial farmer.

PGP/Land Bank Smallholder Farmer of the Year
The 2023 PGP/Land Bank Smallholder Farmer of the Year, Nkosinathi Hadebe, farms on communal land adjacent to the Osizweni township near Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal. This former policeman farms with maize and livestock and was introduced to farming by his parents. He joined the local Grain SA study group in 2019 and started on 2 ha of maize from where he has expanded to 15 ha using his own equipment. Hadebe rents 230 ha of grazing land for his livestock.

PGP/Absa/John Deere Financial Subsistence Farmer of the Year
Busisiwe Portia Msibi farms on land near Volksrust, administered by a CPA where equipment is shared by the farming community. In the 2022/2023 season she planted maize on 3 ha and dry beans on 0,5 ha. She joined Grain SA’s Beyond Abundance programme nine years ago and through it endeavoured to make farming a business. It is through Grain SA that Msibi realised how beneficial farming can be, especially for women. At the Msibi homestead they expect to harvest a total maize yield of around 14 tons.

Derek Mathews, chairman of Grain SA, congratulated all the finalists and top achievers, saying that there needs to be recognition for farmers who are in their fields through drought and in rain. ‘Be proud to be a farmer and use every opportunity. Keep to your commitments and together we will grow,’ he concluded.

William Raphoto, the 2023 New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year, celebrates with regional development manager, Du Toit van der Westhuizen. In his hand is the key to his brand new John Deere 5075E utility tractor.
MEC for Agriculture in the Free State, Teboho Mokoena, was the keynote speaker.
Phephisile Thbede and Jaine Mlangeni in their beautiful traditional attire.
Jeremia Mathebula and Dr Sandile Ngcamphalala congratulate each other on the successful launch of PGP.
Finalists in the Smallholder Farmer of the Year category were Amos Mahlangu, Nkosinathi Hadebe (winner) and Siphiwo Mahlinza.
Soulful singer Viwo Kulati (standing) entertained with her powerful voice and had the crowd singing along.
Derek Mathews congratulates Busisiwe Msibi, the 2023 PGP/Absa/John Deere Financial Subsistence Farmer of the Year.
Enjoying the festivities are Winile and Nokusa Hlongwane.
Farmers from region 29 with Grain SA executive member, Musa Thomas Sibiya, in the front.
The 2023 PGP Potential Commercial Farmer of the Year, Philani Khoza, is congratulated by Maseli Letuka, Grain SA executive member for region 31.
Beatrix de Witt, chief executive officer of Agri Manage Solutions, and Kgodisho Tema joined in the celebrations.
All the way from the Eastern Cape were Nontsapho Yika, Cwayita Mpotyi, Zoliwe Nombewu and Buntu Rhobiyana.
Grain SA personnel celebrate the conclusion of a very successful Day of Celebration.