South Africa’s contributors to agriculture in a time of crisis have been recognised at the Agricultural Writers SA Awards on 13 November in a virtual event dedicated to the heroes of agriculture in 2020. The reason for the change in theme of the awards, which traditionally presented the farmer, agriculturalist and new entrant to commercial agriculture of the year awards, was to honour the agricultural community for the way in which it came together to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent national lockdown.
“The event was on the brink of being cancelled altogether but we realised that in a year such as this that was so difficult, yet so many rallied together to help where it was needed, we couldn’t but use our platform to pay tribute to the industry. There were so many farmers, agricultural companies and associations that contributed to helping communities in need, near and far, assisting fellow farmers and wherever there was help needed. They not only clothed and fed the nation but kept the economy afloat,” said chairperson of the Agricultural Writers of SA, Liza Bohlmann.
In addition, members were honoured for their role in communicating issues of interest to the agricultural sector and aiding in responsible communication of the sector.
CropLife South Africa was proud to sponsor the award for best crop protection article once again this year, as well as introduce a new category for best article pertaining to plant biotechnology. The purpose of these awards is to encourage agricultural journalists to report on matters pertaining to crop protection and plant biotechnology in an accurate, relevant and educational manner so that South African farmers can reap the rewards that these technologies offer and continue to produce food safely and sustainably. The criteria used to adjudicate the articles were relevance to the industry, comprehensibility, technical accuracy and percentage of the article dedicated to crop protection or biotechnology.
The winners of the two respective categories were Gerrit Bezuidenhout (crop protection) for his article entitled Maak seker van jou spuittegnologie which was published in Landbouweekblad and Carin Venter (plant biotechnology) for her article, An Overview of GMOs in South Africa published in FarmBiz.
Commenting on CropLife SA’s launch of the new category, Chantel Arendse (Lead for Plant Biotechnology) remarked that “plant biotechnology has proven its value in agriculture and these awards form the ideal platform to inspire agricultural journalists to learn about how the technology contributes to affordable and sustainable food production and continues to benefit farmer livelihoods and the environment.”