A word from…Jerry Mthombothi
The Department of Agriculture, Grain SA, input suppliers and other organisations are training farmers to follow the correct production practices. Farmers are trained in soil management, pest and disease control, principles of conservation agriculture and much more.
Farmers are given the skills as to how they should go about to produce good quality products and get high yields. The only problem that most farmers have is the lack of machinery such as rippers, planters and boom sprayers for example, in order to prepare their soil properly and have deep soils that will have good drainage, good soil structure and be able to hold water and nutrients.
The hiring of farm implements from local contractors becomes expensive for them and farmers end up taking short cuts by not doing a proper job. If a farmer wants to farm successfully he/she needs not take short cuts because that will result in getting low yields and not get the money back that they have put into the soil. In the past, it did happen farmers received assistance with mechanisation, but the problem was that those people who were given the responsibility to manage those tractors and other farm implements were not doing it correctly. Drivers were hired who were not qualified or not well trained to operate those tractors and not servicing the farm implements. The other problem was that those implements were benefiting only a few.
Nowadays the Department of Agriculture in Mpumalanga through the Land Care Programme, have managed to provide planters and boom sprayers to farmers to be managed by the various Grain SA study groups. They manage the usage of the implements and make sure that if there are some parts that are broken, they buy new spare parts and replace them. Each member contributes something so that the money can be used to hire tractors to pull those planters and boom sprayers and to pay the people operating the implements. Some progress has been observed on the farmer’s arable lands as most farmers are no longer planting their crops by hand but are using those farm implements.
In order for initiatives such as these to be successful, strong partnerships are crucial to assist our farmers to get on their feet and to farm sustainably. We would like to encourage all farmers and role-players to work together as a team to find joint solutions to transform the industry.
Publication: September 2019