Alan Sutton, chairperson of the Valley Macadamias Group and owner of Sutton Crest Farms has been crowned the Mpumalanga Farmer of the Year 2014 by the Agricultural Writers’ Association.
The prestigious awards function took place on Friday, 24 October in Pretoria, where the Association named the winners for the Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga provinces. The titles are awarded annually by the agricultural media.
The Bosveld Group was named the winners for Limpopo and Richard Hobson for the North West. Morapedi Mutloane was the new entrant to farming winner.
Speaking at the event, Magda du Toit, chairperson of the Association, said that it was through absolute dedication and hard work that the farmers achieved the level of success that they had. She applauded them for the contribution they made to food security and the economy.
Master of ceremonies Andries Wiese noted that Sutton had progressed further than many farmers in a very short space of time, cultivating nine farms across two provinces in just 13 years. “His entry into the value chain has proved invaluable to the macadamia industry. His dedication in bringing transparency to the industry is testament to his goal of ensuring that the whole industry is uplifted and not just a handful.”
Sutton’s motto is that winning means that no one loses. “By ensuring the success of everyone, we ensure the success of the entire industry,” he said.
From left: Richard and Paula Hobson (KZN), Piet and Albi Smit (Limpopo), Alan Sutton (Mpumalanga) and Magda du Toit, chairperson of the Agricultural Writers’s Association. To the rear from left are Morapedi and Refilwe Mutloane and Kobus Steenekamp, head of Monsanto SA, sponsor of the event.
Sutton Crest Farms produce macadamia nuts across nine farms of 320ha in total. Eight of the farms are in the greater Hazyview area in Mpumalanga and the ninth in Levubu, Limpopo.
The farms produce on average 4t/ha of macadamia nuts among the mature orchards, which is a benchmark that all farmers strive for. Consistently high nut quality confirms Sutton’s winning approach to farming and his dedication to the finest details.
Sutton also owns three value adding plants which dry and process nuts for export. The Valley Macadamias Group’s processing and drying facilities are in Sabie and Alkmaar in Mpumalanga, with another in Levubu. Over 230 farmers deliver their nuts to Valley Macadamias – a third of the market.
Sutton’s ability to infiltrate Asia and establish a firm market for South Africa’s nuts in the fastest growing region globally speaks to his foresight in making the kind of business decisions that will ensure the sustainability of the macadamia industry.
The farmers will progress to the national awards function held on 14 November in Bloemfontein where an overall winner will be chosen from the group of provincial winners.
The Agricultural Writers’ Association is a voluntary non-profit professional association promoting the image and standards of agricultural journalism in South Africa.