Nkgono Jane says...
The month of December is always a very special and happy time for most people as the schools and universities are on holiday and many people take their annual leave at this time. The wheat farmers in the Western Cape are also most likely to be having a well-earned rest. This is not the case for the summer crop farmers – for them it is the busiest time of year.
The planting of soybeans will have been completed, maize will be completed this month, but the planting of sunflowers and dry beans will be ongoing. These farmers cannot take leave in December. Hopefully you will have experienced good rains which not only make the crop grow, but also the weeds. It is crucial that you keep scouting your land for signs of weeds, pests and diseases. The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner you can fix it!
The Jobs Fund project has been approved and we have 17 mentors out in the field helping those 1 700 subsistence farmers to plant their maize and dry beans. This is a very exciting project and we hope that this project will enable a large number of small farmers to use the land that they have available. We have designed this project in such a way that the farmers pay a higher percentage of the inputs each year so that by year five they are carrying the full production costs. We all know that getting grants is like receiving a gift, but it is not sustainable to get grants forever. We must help farmers to be sustainable and profitable without the help of grants. Farming is a business (however small) and each farmer must continue to farm without grants. Grants are just a ‘hand up’ to get you on your feet.
We are fortunate in South Africa to have a long and warm summer (and usually with rain) – we must make use of this productive season. We are able to plant many crops – both for own use as well as for the market. Please be sure to be using all the land that you have to produce food. We have a responsibility towards those who cannot access land to grow food – we must feed ourselves and others.
I wish you all a Blessed Christmas Season – enjoy the time that you have with friends and family. We trust that 2016 will be a Happy Year for everyone – remember that the harder you work the luckier you might get!
Publication: December 2015