33 year old Tongaat farmer, Anthony Goble, has been chosen as the 2015 KZN Young Farmer of the Year by the Agricultural Union, Kwanalu.
The fifth generation of Gobles to farm in Tongaat, Anthony inherited Evelyn Park Farm after his father, Neil Goble, passed away in 2000
In addition to this 280ha family sugar farm, Anthony also runs another five farms including 430ha of land under cane and another 340ha that he leases from land reform beneficiaries.
Since running the family business, Anthony has diversified into bananas (12ha) and macadamias (5ha), as well as developing seed cane as a third source of income. He also leases out 20ha per year to local madumbi growers as part of a crop rotation scheme.
“By putting in new varieties of cane on land with restored soil health, we have been able to improve our re-plant system and grow seed cane well enough to sell,” he explains.
As part of the latest generation of farmers, Anthony has also been able to introduce modern technology to the age old art of tilling the land. He uses various apps that deliver information straight to his mobile phone, leaving him free to be hands on where he’s needed most.
The farm employs 166 staff with five managers. Both his mother Katheryn and wife, Tanya, are involved with the day-to-day running of the business.
He meets with his managers at every morning at 4am. Anthony believes in empowering his management team through mentoring them on a daily basis.
Although he is just 33, Antony is seen as a leader within the farming and sugar industries. He is the chairman of the Gledhow Farmer’s Association and a director of the Gledhow Sugar Company. He is also vice-chairman of the Upper Tongaat Security Committee and is the founding member of the Upper Tongaat Study Group.
He has also formed strong relationships with the local communities and land claimants in the vicinity. His approach to, and involvement in, land reform and restitution reveals a progressive and optimistic attitude – and one that can influence the future of KZN agriculture.
“I want to live here for the next 30 to 40 years and so do my children, so I have to get involved and work with the communities to find a way that will work for everyone,” he says.
On receiving his award, Anthony specifically thanked his family for their guidance and support over the years.
The competition is open to farmers under the age of 35. The main aspects on which young they are judged are their management/ business philosophies, their technical competence and their vision for the future.
“This year’s entries saw an exceptional standard of young farmers come to the fore – a proud example of the vast farming talent we have in KZN,” said KwaNalu CEO, Sandy La Marque.
Anthony will go on to compete against top candidates from all nine provinces for the national 2015 Young Farmer of the Year title. The winner will be announced on 22 October at the Agri SA Young Farmer of the Year event.