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Already out of the starting blocks

February 2015


JANNIE DE VILLIERS, uitvoerende hoofbestuurder/CEO

The year has kicked off and is going at full throttle. Our teams are busy with regional meetings in the different areas to share information and to test the mood at ground level before tackling Congress 2015.

It continues to remain a pleasant experience for me to take time with producers to ponder the future and what activities Grain SA should collectively involve itself in. After the meeting the other evening at Lekkerrus in Limpopo, we were standing around discussing the gap between those matters producers are busy with on a daily basis on the farm as opposed to those matters crossing my table. “Yes, Grain SA is communicating better than in the past, but the gap remains” was one of the remarks.

Mr Willem Groothof (Grain SA member of the Executive) explained to the guys what he experienced when he attended the first few Executive meetings and the gap he had to bridge from farm level to national issues.

We were also discussing the weather and it was wonderful when the end of our dinner was interrupted by a lovely rain shower and we drove back to Pretoria in the rain. The market (and producers) are getting more and more nervous every day if rain is not forecast for the North. We do remain so utterly dependent on our Heavenly Father to provide.

The multitude in the country who live a virtually from-the-hand-to-the-mouth-existence are often so totally unaware of the mini crises that play out on the farm on a daily basis to provide food for the nation.

Oil price decreases hold good prospects for some inputs, but can also bedevil the international market should the supply continue to rise. This regardless, the demand for grain continues to give us good faith.

There are various dark clouds gathering regarding the Grain SA Grain Farmer Development Programme and our leaders will shortly have to take some major decisions about the future of this programme. The new trustees appointed by the minister to the various grain trusts, are no longer producers or scientists, but politicians.

They bring new views and priorities and in some instances have very little experience of the grain industry. Many of the current projects are visited anew and many questions are being asked. This in itself is not a problem, but the free market does not have an appetite for meddling. These are issues we have to treat circumspectly.

There is also quite some excitement about the hand offered to organised agriculture by the deputy minister of Agriculture (general Bheki Cele). By the end of January this year, the various agricultural industries would have had the opportunity to share their joys and challenges with the ministry and jointly search for solutions.

I am also excited about the new developments and brave decisions being reached by the wheat industry. I am naturally watching it with particular interest since I had a large hand in the development of the current system whilst I was still on the other side of the fence. Like then, I now have very few friends on the other side of the fence. However, what encourages me is the fact that the industry has jointly decided that it is time for drastic changes.

Each year I endeavour to visit different regions so that I, at least over time, can reach our members all over the country. I hope to see you at one of the regional meetings or at Congress.

Publication: February 2015

Section: Features