Jannie Div … attention! Dismissed!

Published: 6 August 2021


Jannie de Villiers
CEO, Grain SA jannie@grainsa.co.za

I suspect my last day as CEO here at Grain SA may not be very different from the last day of my national service. It was a commotion because the commanding officer said we could be dismissed a few days early.

We had to return all army property and make sure there was nothing outstanding. There was little time for greeting and emotions – in fact, we just wanted to celebrate our freedom as soon as possible after two years of service! How­ever, outside the gates it suddenly did not feel as good as during the two years we had been dreaming about this joyous day. Almost a disillusionment.

I have thought a lot on and planned how I wanted to drive across the production areas and greet all the producers and friends in agriculture for the last time.I hoped that the NAMPO Harvest Day in August would provide a wonderful opportunity to greet and thank everyone under one roof. But now COVID is turning many of my beautiful dreams about these happy times into a disillusionment. The space in this column is far too little to mention the name of everyone who has crossed paths with me over the past ten and a half years at Grain SA. Then there is also a lot of people I have called my friends even before my Grain SA days.

Thank you to everyone who has opened their farm gate and heart to me during the time I served here. Thank you to the leadership who allowed me to serve the agriculturists of our country and to the people who carried the load with me. Truly an exceptional team! Special thanks to Nita and Susari who had to serve here outside my office door. To the SA Graan/Grain editorial team, you are the best!

There are also the people I could ask to pray at short notice when there were difficult meetings – most of them were not involved anywhere in agriculture. Then I would also like to apologise to those whom I might have disappointed or where I fell short. Surely there must also be those that I have really angered or hurt: ‘I am sorry.’ Talks with the government had been some of the biggest challenges by far. It would have been nice to be able to report today that we have come closer to each other and are working together better. However, there are definitely work remaining for my successors …

I will definitely miss being together as well as arguing until finding a solution. The people and relationships with them were what made the work possible. Sometimes just a call was enough to make the problem disappear, sometimes a few harsh words were needed for action. Alas, there were enough pap and bread and meat for all and sometimes even a beer or two. Good luck to my successor, Pieter, and the leadership of Grain SA in finding the way for us to sustainable food production in our South Africa.

Finally, I would also like to thank my wife, children and family for their support and encouragement over the years. Thank you for believing in me and listening to all my stories with sympathy and empathy, encouraging me and praying for me. May God honour you for that. All glory to Him.

The time has come: ‘Jannie Div, attention! Dismissed!’

Go well, everyone.

Jannie Div.