Gog van der Colff (33), a farmer from the Northern Cape, will head back to his home town of Upington as the proud owner of a brand new Toyota Hilux Xtra Cab 3.0 D-4D Raider after winning the coveted Agri SA / Toyota SA Young Farmer of the Year competition.
Van der Colff was chosen as the 2011 Young Farmer of the Year after several gruelling rounds of evaluation, in the first instance to emerge as regional finalist and then to be chosen as the top farmer out of a group of eight regional finalists.
Speaking at the function, Johannes Möller, president of Agri SA said: “This year’s young farmers have shown that they have mastered the art of adapting to changed circumstances in agriculture through purposeful action and that the sustainability and long-term consequences thereof are properly considered. Most of the time there is an opportunity for timely and voluntary adjustment to changed circumstances. However, there are risks involved in being a leader, of which financial risks can have the biggest impact on the business.
“This year’s finalists have already distinguished themselves as thinkers who plan in good faith, with self-confidence and hope for the future. This is what distinguishes them from other young farmers. Agri SA is proud of these young farmers, and Gog is a worthy winner of this sought-after title”.
In winning the award, Van der Colff successfully competed against finalists from all other provinces in South Africa. Finalists were nominated based on their performance in their respective region, and were subject to the rule that they are between 18 and 35 and must have been a member of Agri SA’s provincial organisations for at least two years. All finalists were nominated by their respective Agri SA provincial councils and were tested on a multitude of aspects, including their financial and business skills, farming skill and proficiency in management.
Van der Colff, who holds a B.Com degree in Agricultural Economics, farms with table grapes, raisins and pecan nuts on the Carpe Diem Estate outside Upington. He has converted the various farms to organic farms and manages all fertiliser and pest controls accordingly. The business is nationally and internationally accredited by companies such as GlobalCap and Woolworths.
Speaking at the gala announcement of the awards, Marius Burger, Toyota South Africa Motors Senior Vice President of Corporate Administration, emphasised the importance of farming to the South African economy. “A healthy agricultural sector is extremely important for the social and economic health of South Africa. Gog is a prime example of the fact that farmers have become multi-skilled professionals and true business managers in every sense. We are very proud of what he has achieved as a young farmer.
”The evaluations were done by a panel of well known agricultural specialists. They were the convenor Prof. Carlu van der Westhuizen of the Central University of Technology, Free State, Prof. Hentie van der Merwe, University of the Free State, Prof. Phato Mashela of the University of Limpopo and Mr. Jack van Dyk, labour relations and training expert at Agri SA and the AgriSeta.
In their evaluation of Van der Colff’s farming skills, the panel of judges commended him on his strong administrative systems, the happy state of his workforce who participates in a workers’ trust, the way in which he has managed to shorten the marketing chain and the way in which he has managed to add additional value to his products before it leaves the farm gate.
“The way that Gog integrates the planning, implementation and control functions in the production, marketing, finance and personnel management fields are really something to behold. He is maintaining a comfortable and informal working environment on his farm and processing units but with discipline and neatness.
“His business is already the world leader in the organic production of grapes and his unique marketing style results in high premiums on products. The quality of his organic products compares well with that of conventional production techniques (agrochemicals) with the added bonus/advantage of a comparable much more fertile soil for sustainable production and profits over the long run. Added to this he also adds value to the raisins produced on his and neighbouring farms to create a product of exceptional quality. He furthermore maintains good diversification with a good balance between local marketing and export of his produce,” says Prof. Van der Westhuizen.
Van der Colff was awarded the title of 2011 Agri SA / Toyota SA Young Farmer of the Year at a gala dinner held in Johannesburg. He received the keys of a brand new Toyota Hilux Xtra Cab 3.0 D-4D Raider-bakkie from Marius Burger at the event.
“We see a perfect fit between the Hilux, Toyota, Agri SA and the Young Farmer competition. Since our formation exactly 50 years ago we have been a friend of the farming community, not only in supplying the right vehicles, but also in offering the best and most comprehensive dealer network and support structure in the country,” says Burger.
The other finalists in the Agri SA / Toyota SA Competition were:
North West: Gerrie van der Merwe from the Zeerust / Skuinsdrif area. He farms with tobacco, wheat, sunflower, sheep and beef cattle.
Limpopo: Willem de Beer farms in the Tzaneen / Ofcolaco area with beans, sugar maize, baby corn, brinjal, squash pumpkins, patty pans and chillies.
Mpumalanga: Steyl Willemse farms in Hazyview with bananas, ginger and macadamia nuts.
Gauteng: Richard de Freitas farms in the Boksburg area with cabbages, carrots, beetroot, spinach and lettuce.
Free State: Jaco Minnaar farms near Hennenman with maize, soybeans, potatoes, beef cattle and game.
Western Cape: Werner du Plessis farms near Ceres with stone fruit, kernel fruit, vegetables, citrus and wine grapes.
Eastern Cape: Stuart Dewing farms in the Hogsback area with Merino sheep and beef cattle.