12 December 2019 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
Dr Geyer read more
Dr Antonie Geyer, who recently received the Agriculturist of the Year award from Agricultural Writers SA. Photo: Supplied

Dr Antonie Geyer was recently named Agriculturist of the Year by Agricultural Writers SA. It is the second time that he received this award.

Dr Geyer, Director: Agricultural Development in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), says: “I honestly feel honoured and humbled. I was awarded as the Agriculturist of the Year for the Eastern Cape in 2006, and in 2019 as the Agriculturist of the Year for the Free State. I always do my work to the best of my ability and to the advantage of the agricultural industry. I never expected these awards. I see it as proof of the successful impact on the industry.”

According to Agricultural Writers SA, the evaluation of this award is mainly about the essence, principles, value systems, and life ethics of the candidate as well as their achievements, the value of their work to the agricultural sector, and the candidate’s local and international status.

Candidates were also judged on how they shared their knowledge with farmers in a practical way, how valuable this knowledge was, and how it helped farmers to farm in a better and more sustainable way. Among others, Dr Geyer was for many years – even before he joined the UFS – involved in economic study groups for livestock farmers. He developed programmes and provided intelligent reports to individual farmers of the study groups. 

Advising on food security

This agricultural economist who is specialising in livestock economics and is currently regarded as one of the most experienced livestock economists in South Africa, is also passionate about projects and plans aimed at improving food security and sustainable farming. 

“Food security will always be an urgent necessity. The challenges are to secure food safety, food quality, and food security during these extremely difficult times. The economy needs to be stimulated to ensure an increase in the demand for the products supplied by the farmer. A growing economy will create the pull effect, resulting in the increase of demand. This is set for the local as well as the international markets,” he states.

“The most important fact is that we do not know when the drought is going to end. How accurate can one plan and budget? It is almost impossible. Every farm is different, and even more so during drought or disaster situations.”

“There are several factors that need to be managed simultaneously. Information on the disaster is very important: where to get help and what support is available; the veld condition, the condition of your animals; how to adapt to these extreme conditions; is the current production system still relevant under these circumstances; as well as communication with all the role players in your business, e.g. organised agriculture, the co-operatives, the applicable commodity groups, and the financial institutions,” Dr Geyer adds.

Message to future farmers

He believes South Africa urgently needs a new generation of farmers. Dr Geyer’s message to the next generation of farmers is: “There is a brilliant future for agriculture in South Africa. Be informed. Join organised agriculture in your area. Secure the best mentor possible. Gain experience from your fellow farmers in the community, but remember that each farm and community is different, with their own unique challenges. Make use of the latest technology. Keep on expanding and applying your knowledge.”

“The agricultural resources in South Africa is under tremendous pressure,” he states. In general, his dream for agricultural development in the country is to have a prosperous agricultural industry in South Africa, operating economically successful and in harmony with the natural resources.

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