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A team that is passionate about farming

October 2022

Grain SA's farmer development team can assist you in your quest to be a better, more successful farmer. The team is active and in the field, working at grassroots every day. This team brings experience, knowledge, expertise and a commitment to equipping every learner towards better agricultural practices as well as building a relevant network of support around every dedicated developing grain farmer.

The farmers’ days provide an opportunity to get farmers together – along with a network of input suppliers, service providers and support groups, including leaders from the different government departments. Demonstration trial sites are often visited, where information can be exchanged with other farmers, input supply companies, local extension officers and other sector stakeholders who are strategically invited to these days. 

The exposure and information to which farmers are exposed cannot be under-valued – particularly for the subsistence and small-scale developing farmers, who are being introduced to a broader support network beyond the Grain SA Farmer Development team. 

The following farmers’ days were held recently:

  • Dukuza near Bergville: A total of 61 farmers attended this information day, organised by the Dundee regional office, which is managed by Graeme Engelbrecht. Farmers from Dukuza Central, Thabhane, Maswazini, Isandlwana, Inkosana and Oliviershoek study groups were invited. Discussions included new season action plans, chemical use for weed control, different cultivars, safety precautions and chemicals, diseases in maize and the requirement of ‘refuge’ planting for GMO crops. Attendees were also informed about farmer support from the government.
  • Rockmount Farm near Estcourt: Another 67 farmers from Mhlungwini and Mtshezi study groups attended this information day. The team leading discussions included members of the Department of Agriculture in KwaZulu-Natal, Grain SA, Pannar and the Cedara FET College. They looked at the coming season, and how to assist farmers with solutions to the problems they experienced during the planting season. 
  • Kambi Siyazondla study group: This farmers’ day was attended by 50 farmers and stakeholders. Colbert Timakhwe, a farmer, spoke about his experience growing green mealies for the market. Sandile Khumalo from Bayer, Muzi Hlongwane from Kynoch Ferti­liser and a representative from the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform gave presentations to the farmers.
  • Sehlakwane near Elandslaagte: Jerry Mthombothi, regional development manager at the Mbombela office, arranged a farmers’ day which was attended by 67 farmers. Speakers included key representatives from the Department of Agriculture in Limpopo, Bayer and Kynoch. Jerry and Dr Sandile Ngcamphalala (Grain SA FarmerDevelopment lead)  also addressed the farmers with a word of encouragement.
  • Bethlehem: In the Free State, 20 farmers met with industry role-players which included a few commercial farmers who shared their expertise with the attendees: Hannatjie Human, a commercial-scale livestock farmer in the Free State, who is working with the Kaallaagte farmers on their beef cattle; Dirk van Rensburg, who is an old friend of the development programme; Dr Jack Armour and Francois Wilken both from Free State Agriculture. Steyn Groenewald from the Red Meat Producers Organisation also promised support. Ntate Johan Kriel from Phahama Grain Phakama, Grain SA’s new farmer development body, explained the new organisation and its role in the development of the grain farmers in the Free State. The fact that farmers have to diversify in their farming operation was highlighted throughout the day.


At the farmers’ day at Rockmount, the female farmers outnumbered the male attendees.

A demonstration on soil sampling being watched by the Siyachathula study group.

A Farmer Development team member was there when Mthethwa Lethiwe Derril was pulling soybeans from wet patches in the field.

Get involved and grow

The SA’s Farmer Development team believes in working closely together with farmers and key industry role-players to build supportive networks around developing farmers. During July 2022, the team implemented the following interactions with and for developing farmers:

  • A total of 95 on-farm visits to give one-to-one mentoring and guidance and do planning for both the harvesting and marketing of the crops grown this past season, as well as planning and preparation for the new season, as it is time to take soil samples and buy new seasonal inputs.
  • A total of 58 study group meetings for developing farmers.
  • In June and July a total of 13 training courses, which were attended by 250 farmers and farmworkers. The courses ran over five days, offering knowledge transfer and skills development in theory and practical sessions.
  • Six farmers’ day events in different regions during June and July 2022, which were attended by 317 farmers.

The opportunities are available. It is up to you to get involved, seek knowledge and get equipped. Focus on accomplishing the success you are aiming for, whether it is returning top yields per hectare, building your livestock component, buying a new tractor, learning more about grain marketing or acquiring new workshop skills – and believe that you can achieve it.

Set yourself realistic goals with achievable timelines. When you tailor your mind to what it is you want to achieve and dedicate the time to reaching this goal, it is easier to accomplish and easier to keep working hard. Constant personal growth and knowledge acquisition are important aspects of every farmer’s life, no matter how long or how new in the game.

During June a farmers’ day which was arranged by the Mthatha office took place in Kambi. It was attended by 50 members of the Siyazondla Study Group.

A bright yellow tent was erected for the farmers’ day at Sehlakwane. It was arranged by the Mbombela office.

At Dukuza in the Bergville area, the regional development manager of the Dundee office, Graeme Engelbrecht, spoke to the farmers.

Training in the LIMELIGHT

Grain SA has a wide range of training courses and there is something to suit all developing farmers and their farm workers. Training helps to develop best practices to ensure sustainable farming.

The team is in the field and ready to guide and equip farmer members – reach out and the team will willingly meet and lend a hand! Talk to your regional development manager about what training you would like to see in your region; and get your farming community inspired and educated.

Fanie Pienaar presented an on-farm maintenance and support course on welding at NAMPO Park near Bothaville, which was attended by 20 learners.

Farmers gathered in Ficksburg in the Free State for the ‘Farming for profits’ course.

The Siyachathula Study Group learned more about planter and boom-sprayer calibration at their training course.

When attending a course, you receive a training manual to ensure you can revisit what you learned.

Publication: October 2022

Section: Pula/Imvula