Mr Solly Ratjomane, a potato farmer from the Limpopo Province, was
announced the winner of the 2009 Toyota New Harvest of the Year
Competition and is now the proud owner of a new Toyota bakkie. Apart from
being a successful farmer he is also regarded as an exceptional leader and a
role model typifying a successful South African farmer. Mr Ratjomane, who
farms in the Dendron region on close to 1 900 ha, started farming on a
rented farm which he later purchased. At present he rents additional tribal
land from the local community to provide in the land needs required for his
extensive farming operation.
Potatoes are cultivated under irrigation on 120 ha of potatoes which are
planted in rotation with maize, tomatoes and dry beans. As far as his beef
cattle component is concerned he has a Bonsmara herd of 242 and Simbra
herd tallying 78. Mr Ratjomane is true believer in never being too old to learn
and does not hesitate to seek the advice of knowledgeable advisors and coproducers. He maintains that his success is primarily the result of listening to
the experts and implementing these sound practices. A good example thereof
is the initial marketing of his potato crop in collaboration with other commercial
farmers to ensure a reasonable return on his farming investment. He now
successfully markets his potatoes under his own brand name, Solly’s
Boerdery, through the fresh produce markets.
His success is also testimony to his superior knowledge of potato production
practices, especially as far as cultivars, fertilization, plant diseases and pest
control, crop rotation, irrigation water management and cultivation practices
are concerned. He is also a true believer in caring for the environment. His
good veld management practices and forage conservations ensure the
necessary fodder flow throughout the year. His scheduled cattle breeding
program ensures a high calf production rate making this component of his
enterprise also hugely successful. The evaluation team also made special
mention of Mr Ratjomane’s excellent staff relations and working condition on
the farm which ensure higher productivity.
Mr Solly Ratjomane was nominated by Potatoes South Africa. As the
nominating agency Potatoes South Africa received price money of R50 000
that will be spent on further enhancing the course of new farmers.