The farmers, who are part of the Grain SA Farmer Development Programme, have demonstrated excellence in grain production and are making a valuable contribution to food security in the country.
The 2015 Grain SA/ABSA/John Deere financial new era commercial farmer of the year was awarded to Solomon Masango from Carolina in Mpumalanga. Masango won a John Deere 5403 MFWD tractor sponsored by John Deere Financial and ABSA. This is the first time in the history of the competition that a prize of this value was awarded to a winner.
According to a statement he joined the programme in 2012. Since planting 150 hectares of maize, he has increased his average yield from 3.5 to 6 tons per hectare in the past year. He also planted 200 hectares of soybeans with an average yield of 1. 5 tons per hectare.
Former taxi driver Daliwonga Nombewu from Mthatha is the 2015 Grain SA/Syngenta smallholder farmer of the year. Nomwebu has planted 13 hectares of maize and is expecting a yield of about 4.5 tons per hectare.
Ngubengcuka Christian Moyo, from Maclear in the Eastern Cape, was awarded the title of 2015 Grain SA/ABSA subsistence farmer of the year. Moyo left his job at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and started farming in 2008 on communal land with 2.5 hectares of maize on dryland. He is a major supporter of sustainable farming and implemented no-till practices in the 2013/2014 planting season, and he plants by hand.
Grain SA Farmer Development Programme Manager, Jane McPherson said it is encouraging that the standard of entrants is rising every year.
Jannie de Villiers, CEO of Grain SA said the biggest achievement of the programme is that an increasing number of farmers are achieving a commercial yield when following the practices they are taught.