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A WORD FROM… Jane McPherson

July 2019

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do. – Pele. 

The quote for this month could have been written by a farmer – you have to love what you are doing, then you work hard, then you work harder, and then maybe you will succeed. It all comes back to loving what you do and doing it well. Farming is a way of life and not only a way to make an income. 

Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to visit some of our small farmers who are part of the Jobs Fund project in the Eastern Cape. When you see how far away from the cities these farmers live, the poor and unreliable transport system, the poor roads, the lack of infrastructure, the distance they walk to schools and clinics – it begs the question of why they choose to live there? They are happy there and they don’t want to move away in ‘search of the better life’. They don’t believe that the city has a better life to offer. They spoke of the permanence of living in the family home, the sense of community and belonging, the safety, the natural beauty, the quiet and the opportunity to enjoy family life. The most important factor they mentioned is their access to the land on which they can produce food for the family. 

The past seasons have been challenging – some areas have been very hot and dry, some have experienced too much rain, some have had bad hail, few have had extremely cold winters. None of us really know if this is as a result of the global warming, or just a dry spell? We don’t know and we also don’t know how to prepare for the changing weather patterns. Do we expect too much rain, or too little rain? Very hot summers and very cold winters? Early or late frost? We don’t know and this makes it very difficult to prepare. 

In these trying times, we need to make sure that we have done our sums carefully so that we are able to make a profit. You know what yields you can expect in your areas (in a normal year) – if you are not going to make a good profit, rather consider planting a different crop that might be a lower risk. Once you are sure that you are planting the correct crop, then you have to make sure that you are doing all the land work correctly – that there is enough soil moisture for the crop, that you have prepared the lands to the correct depth, that you are using the correct seed cultivar, the correct fertiliser in the correct amount; and that you will be able to manage your weeds.

As you are harvesting your crop, I hope that you will experience the rewards of good planning and hard work. Remember to love what you do and do what you love – you will succeed at farming if this is what you love!

Publication: July 2019

Section: Pula/Imvula