SA Potato Farmer of the Year

Johan van Zyl won what is largely considered the industry's most coveted award.

Potato crops seen from the air in the Cederberg district outside Clanwilliam. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's top potato farmer says he would like to see government offer more support to farmers across the country.

Johan van Zyl has been named South African Potato Farmer of the Year for 2013 at a conference held this week.

The competition has been running for 26 years and is considered the industry's most coveted award.

Van Zyl says the competition is not only about potatoes, but looks at a farmer's passion and business skills.

"It's something you dream about when you start planting potatoes. It's the highest achievement."

Van Zyl called on government to slow down the flood of cheap international food imports.

He says farmers don't want subsidies from government, only a chance to compete in a fair market.

"I don't want the government to write up a cheque. I want them to stop the imports of cheap products from overseas."

Van Zyl, who runs a farm in Warden in the Free State, says people don't realise how healthy potatoes are and that nine out of 10 are selected by hand.