By Bongani Tshabalala
FOURIESBURG-The winner of Free State Agriculture’s Young Farmer of the Year competition, Doug Osler, has pledged his commitment towards building the agricultural sector to help move South Africa forward.
During a glitzy affair held at Monte Bello Estate in Bloemfontein, the 39-year-old Fouriesburg farmer beat four others to the prestigious annual award. During the intimate, socially distanced function, Osler stressed the importance of mutual respect in the sector. The father of two, who farms in Fourieshoek, built his farming enterprise on the principles of hard work, attention to detail and a strong faith, remarked the judges.
Osler said he believed in creating a work environment in which everyone was willing to help, learn and grow.
This year, the panel of judges was led by Professor Pieter Fourie, who heads up the Agriculture Department at Central University of Technology. Participants were judged on, among others, their future vision, budget and finances, production, marketing, maintenance, personnel management and community involvement.
Fourie was delighted by the exemplary business leadership showcased by this year’s finalists. He remarked that the current generation of young farmers not only have impressive leadership abilities, but are also innovative. This leaves him hopeful about the future of agriculture in South Africa. Meanwhile Osler, an apple farmer, has impressed the judges with the mutual respect he has shown for his colleagues. For Osler, it is important to assist his employees with their problems, whether work-related or personal.
Osler has been farming in a family business for the past 16 years in which he has a 25% shareholding.
He believes that challenges and setbacks serve as a learning curve and that it also contributes to the experience he describes as a “unique career choice.”
The award-winning young farmer is primarily responsible for the apple enterprise and pack house of Lone Tree Farms in the eastern Free State. In addition to his involvement in organised agriculture as a member of the Fouriesburg Agricultural Association, Osler is also Chairman of Highveld Fruit Producers and also serves as a Director on the Hortgro Pome Producers’ Council. Among other things, Osler walked away with a cash prize from Free State Agriculture and gift vouchers from Kynoch and Brand New SA.
Furthermore, he automatically advances to Toyota SA and Agri SA’s Young Farmer of the Year competition.
Free State Agriculture has also commended the remarkable contribution by the other young farmers nominated for the prestigious title.
These include Annalea van Niekerk, a Reitz cattle farmer; Wepener livestock farmer, Louis de Jager; Jimmy Roberts, a livestock, arable and game farmer from Hertzogville and Nants Yzel, an arable farmer from Marquard.