Plan for the long haul now

Published: 4 November 2021


Pieter Taljaard
CEO, Grain SA

We all know that timely planning for a long journey is essential, especially when taking on unfamiliar and lesser-known destinations. I just realised this again with our family’s recent trip to the beautiful Botswana, right up on the Khwai River.

It is also so much nicer to enjoy something for what it is if you take off with the right mindset. In his book Get Smart, Brian Tracy explains that it is well known that the average person uses only 2% of their brain power – implying 98% of untapped potential! Research has further shown that there are several ways to make better use of our cognitive ability, the first step of which is to change our perspective: to see the full or bigger picture.

Furthermore, the combination of long-term planning or thinking and prompt or timely action is a prerequisite to realise long-term strategies. By the early 70s Prof Edward Banfield from Harvard University had already proven that those (with diverse socio-economic backgrounds) with longer-term vision and thinking (years and even decades), by far performed better financially than others with a short-term perspective.

The reason for my story is that we as an industry organisation and agriculture as a whole have to determine nów where we want to be in five and ten years from now. Then we must take immediate action, even if it is only two or three small steps per week that we can focus on and complete. We are in control of our own future and have the responsibility to daily use our time in a meaningful and creative way. Only through smart thinking and the willingness to get out of our comfort zone and to work on it, will we be able to improve and find solutions.

Good and positive news is that we can already see results of similar thinking from the recent past. To quickly name but one: The deregulation of two different biotechnology traits from different multinational companies – one in soybeans and the other in maize – is a good example, especially since the one has been released almost a year earlier than expected. Congratulations on this, guys!

Most of us are familiar with the current challenges (I don’t even want to start listing them). With the rising pace of change, we know that we need to remain sober and alert to listen past the daily noise to focus on the end goal. We as agriculturists are extremely valuable to South Africa: We are hardworking and therefore an enormous asset to the country; that is why we can and must better support and encourage ourselves.

We are now planting a significantly more expensive summer season crop and realise that this is putting profitability under pressure even more. However, every week I still hear incredible testimonies from the ‘fields and camps’ that can once again encourage us about how to work together creatively and set up win-win situations. We just have to do a better job of telling the stories to show what is really going on. Together we are stronger – by asking the right questions, we are going to arrive at excellent answers!

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