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Hold on to the truths

July 2017

JANNIE DE VILLIERS, CEO

The past week I became cognisant of the number of leaders in agriculture and society who are currently experiencing a challenging time in their lives. It was almost as if I was walking through a scrapyard of people. Our country’s leaders are having a hard time.

The general situation in the country is leaving scars all over. Even the gale force winds in the Western Cape and the fires in Knysna are signs of devastation leaving scars. The array of videos of sheep in Namaqualand and the Boesmanland running after bakkies in the hope that there might be some fodder on them, definitely result in emotions welling up.

Despite this, the grain carts in the north groan under the loads of maize being harvested while the wheat, barley and canola shoots are emerging in the Western Cape as signs of a new season. The orphan of the country’s economy, agriculture, is almost the only sector that has reared its head and showed positive growth. This was surely to be expected after last year’s debilitating drought.

Many times, all the political news items posted on lamp posts make me think of the battles in the Bible where the enemy annihilated themselves and had so many internal battles that eventually it resulted in no battle at all, leaving only spoils.

What should one do when all these things happen? Hold on to the truths that you believe in. We as agriculturists know that there has always been an end to every drought or low in our history.

Therefore I also believe that there will come an end to this ‘drought’ period in South African history. When it will happen, we do not know, but we can continue looking forward to the signs in nature that indicate a new season.

A wise old man the other day commented on everything happening, saying that there is always a period of revelation that must happen, with public airing of wrongs before the confession and healing can occur. This is where we are now. It is not unusual at all, at least things are brought into the open. It also does not necessarily make it better, but at least it brings hope.

In the coming months grain producers’ eyes will be on the maize export figures in the hope that somewhere in the future better prices will ensue, but on the weather in the Western Cape as well.

The continuation of the land debate after the NAMPO Harvest Day, together with the big meetings of the governing party (policy in June and leadership in December), will have to be taken note of. The reality of a new political dispensation after the 2019 election, is becoming much more of a reality as the cans of worms are opened and internal fighting increases.

Grain SA has already investigated various scenarios with the hope of a better agriculture-friendly policy environment. Despite this, producers must continue to sharpen their pencils and make sure that all their decisions on the farm make economic sense.

Back to the scrapyard of people in our country: Look out for the men and women in your vicinity and listen to them. Often listening is better medicine than giving advice. Hold on to the truths we so sincerely believe in. Pleasant farming!

Publication: July 2017

Section: Features

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