POTATO FARMER TAKES THE HONOURS 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.