Agri South Africa’s Young Farmer of the Year hails from a very rural area in the North West, JP van den Berg farms near Tosca close to the Botswana border.

He won the award for introducing social and environmentally responsible farming practices and transforming his maize farm into a lucrative potato farm.

Thirty one-year-old JP van den Berg saved his family’s drought-stricken farm. Today it produces up to 70 tons of potatoes per hectare. At the heart of this profitable farm are his labourers and the local community.

Van den Berg says, “It comes from my heart. I am not being forced to do it. My labourers must feel worthy. Some of them have more practical experience than I do and I therefore value their input. My workers get two cooked meals per day. The nearest town is 20 kilometres away, and they work in extreme weather conditions. I cannot go on lunch and wonder if they have something to eat.”

Farm Manager Lucas Gaonamong says, “I’ve learnt a lot from Van den berg. Going forward I think I should push myself in learning better. I also want to pass the knowledge when I also get a farm. I recognise what I’ve learnt from him, he is working very efficiently.”

Van den Berg also farms with Brahman and Siementallers and donates some of his prime bulls to the local community, to improve their herd’s genetics.

Van den Berg leaves land barren for 10 years after planting to preserve the environment and allow the land to recover.

He also uses 40% less of his water quota for irrigation.

Click link for more: