The Agri SA Toyota Young Farmer of the Year and Toyota New Harvest of the Year awards were presented to crop farmer Jaco Strauss and fruit farmer Ricard Myburg, respectively, at a gala event in Centurion on 19 October 2017. Each winner drove away in a brand new Toyota Hilux Single Cab 2.4 GD 5MT, valued at R276 200, after the awards ceremony.
It took these category winners many gruelling rounds of elimination – and ultimately representing their provincial regions – before they were announced as 2017 champions of the coveted Agri SA Toyota Young Farmer and New Harvest of the Year awards. For event organisers Agri SA and Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), the awards are an important part of the South African farming calendar during a period when the industry is faced with both challenging and changing circumstances in Agriculture.
“We would like to congratulate Jaco Strauss and Ricard Myburg for their awards and thank all the finalists for their contribution to South Africa. Toyota South Africa’s roots are firmly placed in the Agriculture industry and these awards are our way of saying thank you for the continued support,” said Leon Theron, Vice President of Sales and Dealer Network at TSAM.
“The ultimate test for farmers – even when finances and weather patterns aren’t an issue – is observing and applying sustainable agricultural practices. We need to make sure that what is taken out of the environment is put back in, so that resources such as water and soil are kept in good condition for future generations,” he said.
Toyota Agri SA Young Farmer of the Year
Strauss has been farming for the past 18 years on the farm “Lekkerkry” between Jan Kempdorp and Hartswater in the Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme in the Northern Cape. His major enterprises include maize, wheat, cotton, barley, oats, groundnuts, lucerne, soybeans and pecan nuts.
Strauss’s high level of discipline and sense of responsibility have helped him ascend to top of the food chain in his region. Younger Farmer of the Year judges observed that he is quite innovative, knowledgeable and continuously seeking methods to further increase his efficiency by improving yields and reducing costs. To understand and overcome challenges, Strauss has realised the importance of up-to-date information and has developed a comprehensive information management system that sets him apart from the rest.
Other finalists in the Agri SA Toyota Young Farmer of the Year competition were:
- Ross Lowe who farms with kiwifruit, cabbage and potatoes in the Riverton region of the Kwazulu-Natal.
- Andries Groesbeek who farms with maize, soybeans, sheep and cattle in the Nigel region of the Gauteng.
- Steyn Prinsloo who farms with bananas, avocados and macadamias in the Kiepersol region of the Mpumalanga.
- Pieter Nel who farms with citrus, seed maize, dry beans, maize, cotton and soybeans in the Groblersdal region of the Limpopo.
- Johan van Huyssteen who farms with maize and beef cattle in the Virginia region of the Free State.
- Stefan Erasmus who farms with Merino sheep, Bonsmara beef cattle and planted pastures in the Middelburg region of the Eastern Cape.
- Róan van Tonder who farms with game, cattle and cultivated pastures in the Potchefstroom region of the North West.
- Johann Nel who farms with Jersey dairy cattle, Döhne Merino sheep, Boer goats and various grains (oats, wheat, barley and maize silage) in the Swellendam region of the Western Cape.
Toyota New Harvest of the Year
Myburg farms with apples and pears in the Vyeboom region of the Western Cape. He is described by industry peers as “a passionate young man with good business ethics and highly regarded within the industry”.
When he first started working on the farm, there were numerous challenges including poor yields, inferior quality fruit and poor productivity from the workforce. However, he turned things around by addressing some of the social ills affecting his local farming community. He also made sure that staff morale was boosted and invested in farming resources, including irrigation systems and sound soil conservation methods. Subsequently, production per hectare of the farm has more than doubled while the quality of fruit has also improved.
Other finalists in the Toyota SA New Harvest category are:
- Byron Booysen farms with vegetables, tomatoes, swiss chard and baby marrows in the Kraaifontein region of the Western Cape.
- Tshediso Daniel Maqala farms with maize, dry beans, wheat, sunflower, beef cattle, sheep and goats in the Rosendal region of the Free State.
- Thulas Ngidi farms with sugarcane (but also on a smaller scale with sheep, cattle and goats) in the Umzumbe region of the KwaZulu-Natal.
- Sipho Nkosi farms with broilers, maize, cattle and sheep in the Ermelo region of the Mpumalanga.
The panel of judges who presided over the nominations was led by esteemed academics, including Prof. Carlu van der Westhuizen, Agricultural Production Economist, Department of Agriculture at the Central University of Technology; Prof. John Annandale, Agronomist, Department of Plant Production and Soil Science at the University of Pretoria; Prof. Louw Hoffman, Distinguished Professor in Meat Science, Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch.