Farmer’s Weekly’s journalist is cream of the crop

An article written about an ostrich farming project in the Eastern Cape won Farmer’s Weekly journalist Denene Erasmus the Agricultural Writer’s SA Journalist of the Year award at the organisation’s annual awards ceremony recently.

Farmer’s Weekly’s journalist is cream of the crop
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Ecstatic by the win, Erasmus said she was very fortunate to be part of a dedicated and talented band of journalists, editors, copy editors, designers and support staff at Farmer’s Weekly.

“The award is definitely not only a reflection on my writing, but rather evidence of the quality of work being produced week after week by the Farmer’s Weekly team,” said Erasmus.

This year’s competition saw entries from agri journalists across SA. Stories had to focus on commercial farmers who were supporting new and developing farmers to gain entry to farming, or achieve commercial success.

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Erasmus’ winning article covered an ostrich farming project initiated by Martin Fick, a farmer from Zimbabwe who had to start from scratch after he and his family lost everything as a result of that country’s chaotic land reform regime.

“Instead of being embittered by the loss and violence he suffered in Zimbabwe, Martin decided to make a positive contribution to agricultural reform in South Africa,” said Erasmus.

With the help of ostrich processing and marketing business, Klein Karoo International, the ostrich farming project that Martin started is having a very real impact in an area where people had become despondent due to the utter lack of economic opportunities in their rural villages.

Erasmus said that Buyelwa Mangi, one of the farmers involved in the project, told her how farming has changed her life.

“Mangi said the opportunity to earn an income from farming with ostriches has given many in that community hope and a purpose. I was inspired by the story and when writing it I hoped that it would also be an inspiration for those who read it – for those commercial farmers who are not yet convinced of the merit of a more inclusive agriculture sector, and for those who aspire to become farmers,” Erasmus said.

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Denene hails from a sugar cane farm in Pongola, KwaZulu-Natal, but after school she relocated to the Cape Winelands to study, for many years, at the University of Stellenbosch. She worked as a journalist for Farmer’s Weekly since 2009 and in 2015 moved to Johannesburg as Deputy editor for the magazine. In 2016 she was appointed editor, and at the end of 2021, she stepped down from her position to pursue her journalism career.