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A WORD FROM…Dr Dirk Strydom

May 2020

The difficulties our country is experiencing and how we would get through all this uncertainty and challenges, can easily lead to negativity. Some previous experiences made me think about this.

The first experience I recall, is from a previous visit to Poland, which is a beautiful country but one with a war-stricken history. There I asked a 5th generation farmer: ‘How did your family manage to stay on the farm through all these troubled times, and best of all creating a world class farm and business?’ He responded: ‘Sir, my family believes in supporting the leaders that have our best interest at heart and not the politicians. If it goes well with us, we reinvest in our community, but most importantly we all keep focusing on what we are good at, which is farming.’ Such words of wisdom, because we do not have control over a lot of things.

Another piece of wisdom came from a rural farmer, where I experienced superior hospitality, an abundance of love for God, and a whole lot of gratitude and thankfulness. ‘This community seemingly does not have a lot but they are extremely grateful … why is that?’ I asked myself. Then the farmer explained to me how he produced his crops, what new ideas he has and how he embraced new production methods such as no-till on his small piece of land behind his house.

An old maize stalk previously harvested by hand remained in the field. The farmer explained: ‘One day I watched the plant closely and realised if you look at it from the top, the leaves are twirled into the stalk creating a funnel for water, flowing to the bottom. There the brace roots channel the water into the ground close to the plant to utilise it through the roots.’ This farmer took the time to have a close look at the plant to understand the working of it and to see what adjustments in the production process can be done to improve efficiency. Taking time to focus on the small things provided joy, gratefulness and prosperity, but the busier you get, the less one tends to retain focus, which leads to missed opportunities.

Sometimes the answer to happiness and prosperity lies within the passion for something, in the little things and a simpler life, which provides more focus on important things.

My friends, always keep this lesson a part of your life. Make time to enjoy, focus and appreciate the small things. Make sure you control the things that are controllable. Keep your love for agriculture no matter how big or small you farm. I am still a believer that through agriculture hearts are changed and that agriculture is a medicine that can heal the challenges of our country.

Publication: May 2020

Section: Pula/Imvula