Agripen September 2015

Stephan Fourie is 2015 Potato Farmer of the Year

2015 Syngenta National Potato Farmer of the Year, Stephan Fourie and his wife Sussa.
Stephan Fourie of Potato Pride in the Eastern Free State is the 2015 Syngenta National Potato Farmer of the Year.

Stephan obtained a BCom Accounting degree from Unisa in 2004 and completed his articles in the following year. In 2006 his father in law presented him with the opportunity to farm on Potato Pride in the Eastern Free State. Assisted by his wife Sussa, Stephan acquired experience in crop farming with, among others, maize, corn and soy bean, cattle farming as well as potato farming under irrigation.

Stephan is involved in agricultural organisations as a member of Grain SA, Free State Agriculture as well as the Van Reenensdorp Farmers Association.

He ascribes his success as a leader farmer to the motto of Potato Pride, "driven by passion and proven by performance". With a passion for renewal as driving force, Stephan places a strong emphasis on the value that his workforce adds to his precision farming. For Stephan the challenge as top performer is not so much in competing with fellow producers, but rather in the aspiration to continuously improve the quality of his own product.

UN food security recognition for South Africa

"South Africa is one of 72 countries that have reached the Millennium Development Goal hunger target" - Zuma
President Jacob Zuma has welcomed the Food Security Recognition award for South Africa, for reaching the Millennium Development Goal One hunger target.

"South Africa is one of 72 countries that have reached the Millennium Development Goal hunger target - reducing the proportion of undernourishment between 1990 and 2015 by half," said Zuma.

The country received this accolade from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations recently.

The award recognises and celebrates the country's achievements in the fight against hunger.

"We are all very proud of this achievement and I congratulate all the South African people. We have achieved this through working together to promote food security."

The country is recognised and acknowledged with 11 other countries for keeping undernourishment levels below five percent.

John Purchase named Industry Role Player of the Year

From left - GWK general managers Wim van Rooyen: auctions, meat and supermarkets, Llewellyn Brooks: special products, Dr John Purchase, Agbiz, Tom Meintjes: grain products and Mark du Plessis: retail.
Dr John Purchase of Agbiz was named Industry Role Player of the Year by GWK and Landbouweekblad recently.

Craig MacFarlane is Bayer CropScience Seed Potato Grower of 2015

2015 Bayer CropScience Seed Potato Grower Craig MacFarlane and his wife Sue.
Craig MacFarlane of Loch Buighe was named Seed Potato Grower of 2015 at the Bayer CropScience annual Seed Potato Growers' Forum recently.

"Seed potato production needs discipline, proper management of plantings, alongside careful adherence to the requirements of the South African Seed Potato Certification Scheme," said Hennie van der Westhuizen of Bayer CropScience.

"Without passion, this is not possible."

"Craig is a dedicated seed potato grower who gives a lot of attention to detail," said Ferdus Erasmus, Potato Certification Service's Regional Manager in KwaZulu-Natal.

"A big advantage is the fact that Craig is almost the only potato grower in the area where he grows his own seed potatoes from G0 up to G3, after which G4 seed is sold to commercial growers. This in itself gives him the reassurance that he plants quality seed potatoes, over which he has control. The resultant low disease pressure, which is managed effectively, leads to excellent quality seed potatoes."

Craig farms near Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal. He plants approximately 70ha of seed potatoes of which most are processing varieties for Simba. Over the last five years he has adapted to the ever-changing seed potato industry and switched from open varieties such as BP1 to protected varieties such as FL2108 and Lanorma.

Besides potatoes, Craig plants maize, soya beans, oats and eragrostis, of which maize is the most important. He plants approximately 400ha of maize to produce silage for his dairy. He also has 600 head of Red Angus Beef and a share-milking operation on Loch Buighe. The third leg of his farming enterprise is timber.

Agricultural Writers SA's Journalist of the Year competition open

Entries for the 2015 Agricultural Writers SA's Journalist of the Year competition are open.

"The competition is aimed at acknowledging journalistic work that best promotes the image of South African agriculture and that of the commercial farmer. This year's entries focus specifically on commercial farmers' support in developing black emerging farmers into commercial farmers," says Agricultural Writers SA Chairperson, Magda du Toit.

The competition, running for the seventh year, is supported by Agri SA's Agri Securitas Trust Fund.

"With this competition, the fund attempts to promote the image of commercial agriculture and that of commercial farmers and to address the misperceptions that exist among the broader community," says Agri Securitas Fund Chairperson, Japie Grobler.

"The focus of the competition is on commercial agriculture's contribution to black farmer development, transformation and training in agriculture."

The prize, sponsored by Santam Agriculture, is R15 000 - R5 000 for a journalism course of the winner's choice and cash of R10 000.

Agricultural Writers SA regards this as an extension of the annual competition to find candidates in the respective provinces for participation in the National Farmer, Agriculturalist and New Entrant to Commercial Farming of the Year competition. Any member of Agricultural Writers SA, as well as other journalists reporting on or writing about agriculture, may enter.

Participants must complete the entry form and attach the work which in their opinion best promotes the image of South African agriculture and that of the farmer. Agricultural Writers SA, as well as provincial and commodity organisations of Agri SA, may in their own right invite journalists who meet the criteria to enter.

Visit and for entry forms.

The entries will be judged, based, among others, on -

Promoting the image of the farmer and that of agriculture

  • The importance and impact of the article/radio insert/TV production or insert/digital production or insert in promoting the image of the farmer through his/her involvement in transformation and farmer development at farm level and within his/her community;
  • Contribution towards promoting understanding among or the education of the readers/viewers; and
  • Accurate and fair reporting, diversity of opinions and perspectives.

Technical evaluation

  • Is the article/insert presented in such a way that it will be read/viewed up to the end?
  • Has the title of the report/insert attracted attention and are the readers/viewers encouraged to continue reading/viewing it?
  • Is elucidation provided by way of photos/ good and visual material?

Reach of the publication

  • Will only the farming community be reached or are the facts of the matter such that they are of interest to the general public of SA and the world?

The panel of judges will select one winner from the entries received. The judges' decision will be final.

Any work published/ broadcast by a journalist, whether in print or on a website, may be entered. A maximum of two works per journalist may be entered.

Journalistic work for radio and television will be taken into account subject to the necessary supporting information.

Articles published from 1 May 2014 to 30 September 2015 will be considered. Articles, images and audio material must accompany an entry for consideration. Contributions in any official language, accompanied by a summarised translation if not in English or Afrikaans, are welcome.

The closing date for entries is 20 October 2015. Download the entry form: English version | Afrikaans version.

Enquiries can be addressed to Magda du Toit, 082 388 0187,

The winner will be announced at Agricultural Writers SA's awards evening on 13 November in Stellenbosch.

New season of Nation in Conversation on air

Aubrey Kruger – Senwes

Lights, camera, action!

The new season of Nation in Conversation is on air!

Season two of Nation in Conversation kicked off on Tuesday, 14 September.

The first episode of the Senwes inspired series on DStv's Business Day TV channel discussed land reform, the global history of land reform, models that have been proposed and financing models.

The ever popular anchor, Theo Vorster of Galileo Capital, talked to highly esteemed panel members Jackie Grobler, Senior Lecturer Historical and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria and Pierre Venter, General Manager of the Banking Association of South Africa.

Grobler explained that the issue of land ownership developed over many millennia.

"Land ownership had four main stages - the archaic stage, where humans just existed and land ownership was very vague. During the second stage, about 20 000 to 30 000 years ago, they started to produce food as they controlled their land. Yet no concept of borders existed. During the third stage, the distribution of land started, followed by the cultivation of land with food being produced. During the fourth stage, in the last two millennia, property law came into effect."

When Dutch settlers came to South Africa, no private land ownership existed and the local people had communal land - that was when the European norms were introduced. In 1806 these norms were followed by British laws being introduced, as the colonial power was stronger.

Venter said land reform must be a success and government must play a role. "The much talked about 50/50 model, as well as the alternative private model that works on a voluntarily basis, are being discussed."

Consensus was that we must learn from history and that we have a 10-year window to produce a rational and sustainable plan.

"Everyone knows it is a tough road ahead and we must get pilot projects in place," said Venter.

View the programme on or and stay tuned for the 13 episodes until early December.

KwaZulu-Natal agri-parks get R450m

Government has set aside R450 million for the establishment of agri-parks in KwaZulu-Natal – from a budget of R2 billion for the national rollout.

"Ten sites have been identified for these agri-parks, which are at different stages of development," says the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti.

"Each district has been reviewed and commodity options have been selected which take into account land capacity, what is actually farmed in the area and which commodity is most likely to assist with increased production."

An agri-park is a farmer-controlled entity that serves as a catalyst around which rural industrialisation can take place.

The aim is for the park to provide a network of contacts between producers, markets and processors, as well as infrastructure to process agricultural products.

Nkwinti says government will support agri-parks for ten years to ensure economic sustainability, after which it is expected that farmers will take complete control.

A working group of all relevant government departments has already been established to deal with all regulatory requirements such as environmental impact assessments.

South Africa currently has agri-parks in all 44 districts across the country.

"Significant progress has been made in the roll out of the agri-parks, which are expected to create 90 000 jobs in the value addition activities linked with the various agri-park components. This excludes the contribution that will be made towards the establishment of 300 000 smallholder farmers.

"Of critical importance are production plans, market linkages and skills development, which we plan to complete within the next six months. We are working with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to ensure that production plans submitted are implemented to coincide with the coming planting season," says Nkwinti.

Monsanto Agricultural Writers SA Technical Article competition open

Enter the 2015 Monsanto Agricultural Writers SA Technical Article: Award of the Year competition now.

The aim of the competition is to encourage journalists to write articles of a technical and scientific nature in such a way that it is easily understandable to their readers and other people in the agricultural industry.

The closing date is 10 October 2015.

Download the entry forms.

Grain SA gets Bramley Children's Home kicking

New kit – will play to win.
Bramley Children's Home provides 24-hour care to 54 children who have been removed from their families or do not have family members to care for them.

Boys and girls between 5 and 19 years from different cultures and churches live in three houses in Groenkloof, Pretoria. Services rendered include physical, emotional, educational and spiritual care.

During the recent 67 Minutes for Mandela Day project, Grain SA supported the home's football team, donating 16 kits – each member receiving a football shirt and shorts, socks, caps, a tog bag and togs.

"The newly kitted team could not wait for the next match, thanks to Grain SA," said the home's social worker, Magda Vermaak.

Government ensuring that agriculture realises its full potential - Ramaphosa

"Agriculture needs to be set on a growth path" – Ramaphosa.
"Government is engaging with all relevant stakeholders in the agricultural sector to address the growth and efficiency of the sector, the rights and needs of farm workers, enforcement of labour market regulations and adherence to the rule of law," he said in Parliament recently.

"The provision of services to improve the living and working conditions of farm workers and farm dwellers is given priority. The full implementation of existing laws, regulations and sectoral determinations to protect and advance the rights of farm workers, is a priority."

The Deputy President has been at the forefront of farmworkers' rights and during his recent visit to Paarl in the Western Cape, to meet with the farming community, he condemned farm evictions.

"This sector needs to be repositioned and set on a growth path where all stakeholders can benefit. Work is continuing to address the specific circumstances of farming communities in the Western Cape."

He said government was hard at work to achieve the fundamental transformation of South Africa's agriculture sector.

"The process requires the active and constructive participation of farmers, farm workers, industry bodies, communities and civil society formations. Agriculture is vital to the future of South Africa. It has significant potential to create jobs, boost exports, support economic growth, develop rural areas and ensure food security for all our people. We will ensure that the agriculture sector realises that potential."

Agricultural Writers SA North membership fees

Thank you to all the members who have promptly paid their membership fees.

If you are unsure about your payment status please contact Nico van Burick on 083 380 3442,

Dates to diarise

  • 9 October – Agricultural Writers SA North Farmer of the Year awards, Pretoria
  • 14 October – AFMA Annual Symposium, CSIR Convention Centre, Pretoria
  • 15 & 16 October – AgriSA congress. St George Hotel and Conference Centre, Pretoria
  • 21 & 22 October – Poultry Buzz, St George Hotel and Conference Centre, Pretoria
  • 13 November – Agricultural Writers SA National Farmer of the Year awards, Spier, Western Cape
  • 14 November – Agricultural Writers SA Annual General Meeting, Spier, Western Cape
  • 1 & 2 December – Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture conference, Durban

Photo of the month

The colour yellow resonates with the left or logic side of the brain,
stimulating our mental faculties and creating mental agility and perception.

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