Agriculture Writers South Africa: 2020 Tribute Heroes of Agriculture

Banding together to love thy neighbour. This is how Liza Bohlmann, chairperson of the Agricultural Writers SA, described the way in which the agricultural community came together during 2020 to overcome challenges posed by COVID-19 and the consequent lockdown.

The Agricultural Writers SA traditional host the Farmer, New Entrant to Farming and Agriculturalist of the Year awards during November, but due to restrictions on public events the event took on another format this year, instead paying tribute to what we can only describe as our heroes of agriculture. 

“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 Bohlmann.

Liza Bohlmann, national chairperson of the Agricultural Writers Association of South Africa (ASWA) led the shift to a digital awards event.

Rossouw Cillie, custodian of the Agricultural Writers SA and chairperson of the ProAgri Group, noted, “when the COVID-19 bomb dropped it was amazing how quickly everyone mobilised to help each other. It has always been my dream to see the sector unified, and we saw during the crisis that unification is possible because everyone came together when we needed it most.

“My message to agriculture is to remember that humankind needs us. They need food and clothes and as such there will always be opportunities for those willing to look and work hard. We must not be afraid of what lies ahead.”

In addition to paying homage to these stalwarts, the virtual event on 13 November, sponsored by Bayer, Santam Agriculture and Health Squared Agility Agri, featured discussions by industry experts, focusing on crucial topics for the further success of both agricultural communicators and farmers.

During the event members of the Agricultural Writers SA were honoured for their role in communicating issues of interest to the agricultural sector and aiding in responsible communication of the sector. 

Charl van Rooyen, long-time representative of South Africa's guild on the IFAJ Executive and champion of IFAJ's photo contest, was honored by the Agricultural Writers Association of South Africa with a special award for decades of dedication to the industry, as well as awards for his reporting.

The winners of the respective categories are:

CropLife SA Crop Protection Article Award

  • Gerrit Bezuidenhout

CropLife SA Biotechnology Article Award:

  • Carin Venter

FNB Communicator of the Year Award:

  • Print Category: Charl van Rooyen
  • TV & Audio: Lise Roberts
  • Social Media & Online: Ronel Botha

BKB Photo Competition:

  • Agricultural Photographer of the Year: Willem van der Berg
  • Agricultural Photo of the Year: Willem van der Berg

Bayer Technical Article Award:

  1. Gerrit Bezuidenhout
  2. Gerrit Bezuidenhout
  3. Fredalette Uys

Santam Agriculture Farmer of the Year Best Coverage Award:

Charl van Rooyen

Agricultural Writers SA Special Award

Charl van Rooyen was given this award as a token of appreciation for the passion he has displayed for agriculture for the last 30 years, both on an Association level locally and on an international level.

A display panel highlights top photos in South African agricultural media.