Farm with your whole heart

Published: 4 June 2024

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‘Never give up, no matter what life throws at you.’ This is the life motto of Jan (Oujan) Masiu (63) who farms near Senekal in the Eastern Free State. Even though challenges like the weather, a shortage of implements and marginal soil may have had an impact on his farming success this year, he is still determined to be a successful farmer.

Jan’s father left the family, leading to his destiny of becoming a farmer. When his mother started working on a farm, it became such a familiar environment for him that he developed from a 15-year-old teenager helping out on the farm to a hard-working, passionate farmer who farms with his whole heart.

Today he runs a mixed farming operation with two of his sons, Bush and Vincent, on the farm Driekoppen – a 698-ha farm which he secured in 2017 on a 30-year lease agreement from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).

Although he had a lot of experience with dairy farming and cattle, he became very interested in crop farming so that he too could contribute to food security in the country. Thanks to neighbouring farmers he heard about Grain SA and became part of the Farmer Development Programme where he could obtain the necessary knowledge. Jan has high praise for this programme: ‘The input from the team has definitely helped me become a better farmer.’

Jan believes that one is never too old to learn. ‘I didn’t complete my schooling, but now I continue to learn to improve my farming skills,’ he says about why he uses every opportunity to learn from others. He is also not shy to ask for advice when unsure of what to do. ‘Even a small-scale farmer may have some knowledge from which I can benefit.’

Driekoppen is a mixed farming operation where maize, sunflower and soybeans are produced on marginal soil with an average yield of 3,8 t/ha on maize and 1,8 t/ha on sunflower. As experienced by many farmers in this area, climatic conditions proved challenging this season. ‘It was very difficult to see the damage caused by the drought and extreme temperatures,’ Jan says. This season he hopes that he will at least be able to cover his production costs after the harvesting is done.

JAN’S STORY

Who plays a role in your success?
Jacques Roux, the regional development manager, and before him ntata Johan Kriel who now works in the Western Free State, have both played a major role in developing me as a farmer. My neighbours and other farmers, the contractor who harvests and the study group members have helped me with advice when I needed it. And of course my wife, Agnes, who is always at my side.

What are your dreams for your farm?
Improving the soil health on Driekoppen for the following season is important so that I can improve my yield and one day buy a harvester. Not having the necessary implements puts one at a disadvantage, so I would like to own a harvester as contractors often arrive late which has an impact on the yield. If I have all the equipment I can farm better.

FARM FACTS

Farm: Driekoppen
Nearest town: Senekal
Region: Free State
Size: 698 ha – 315 ha of arable land where he plants, while the rest is used for grazing
Type: Mixed – plants maize, sunflower and soybeans. Livestock – farms with Bonsmara cattle

PGP’S CONTRIBUTION

  • Joined Grain SA in 2017
  • Study group: Senekal study group

Training courses completed:

  • Introduction to maize production
  • Introduction to sunflower production
  • Introduction to soybean production
  • Calibration of planters and sprayers

A mentor’s view:
Jacques Roux, regional development manager in the Eastern Free State, says that Jan is a committed farmer who has a lot of support in the community. ‘He is really keen to be a successful farmer, so he follows advice to the tee. When it comes to spending money, he thinks carefully about his options before he buys anything. He puts his farming operation first.’