An internal investigative year

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December 2015

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JANNIE DE VILLIERS, uitvoerende hoofbestuurder/CEO

The year is on its back. 2015 will certainly go down in the annals as one of the driest years ever. It was dry in the north and in the south. It is the year during which so many predicted that land reform would find direction, to reduce the uncertainties in agriculture. This did not happen. Quite a humbling experience for those of us who predicted it.

It was a year during which the deterioration of our economy made all of us concerned and which lead to protest actions all over the country. The levels of corruption have definitely reached an all-time high! We could not reach the finals of the Rugby World Cup – despite all the producers who were there to support our team. This is not how one wants to refer to your country.

The disturbing tendency of increasing food imports surely is not something we as agriculturalists want to see or hear. More and more threats of government intervention in agriculture keep us awake at night. When are the people going to learn? Africa with all its intervention from government’s side in agriculture is the only part of the world which experiences constant food insecurity and food shortages. It so very nearly was, in many respects, an internal investigative year for agriculture.

Each producer first had to get his own house in order and overcome the drought. We have also progressed very well in renewing the internal structures in organised agriculture. There is new blood in the leadership team of Agri SA, who are ready to face the new dispensation with new plans. Grain SA has also spent quite some time on our funding and budgets. If you take a beating like the one in the past year, it is normally done in silence.

One such a beating that did not happen in silence was in my Standard 3 (Grade 5) year. The dispirited Miss Joubert sent all the naughty children, under supervision of the class captain, to the office of the Headmaster. Mr Barnard, or ´Plos´ as we called him, was not in a good mood and gave everyone a hiding! Even the clever, well behaved and obedient Hennie got a hiding. He was not quiet about this when all of them returned deathly quiet and very well behaved to the class.

In such quietude it is once again time to sharpen the pencils and ensure that there is no unnecessary fat in the budget and no unnecessary costs in the production inputs. Silence is also a good time to review the whole farm unit’s sustainability. According to our conservation tillage survey amongst Grain SA members it seems that about 40% of our hectares are already being tilled in accordance with one or the other conservation tillage plan. This is good progress and a good counter measure against the drought.

The silence of a dry year creates much thinking time. Think about the future, relationships and priorities. Let me once again assure each member of Grain SA that we as staff members carry you in our hearts. Not only when we do our work, but also when we, with you, watch the clouds in silence and ask for rain.

Publication: December 2015

Section: Features