The fact that Johannes Setshego (50) has completed nearly all the Grain SA training courses, shows that he is truly committed to developing into a bigger and better farmer. He grew up on a farm in the Winburg area, where his father was a farm worker for a commercial producer.
Johannes always loved being on the farm but had to attend school in Welkom, where he stayed with his uncle who was trading with sheep. This made him realise that there is more to farming than just working on the lands.
After he had completed his schooling, he bought his first cow and slowly began developing a keen interest in cattle trading. In 1999 he read about the Land Redistribution Programme and decided to apply for land. ‘I knew if I had my own land, my dream to become a farmer would be realised.’ In 2001 Johannes stepped onto the farm Cradocksia to begin his career as a cattle farmer.
Although he had no knowledge of crop production, he decided to try his hand at it and planted wheat. ‘Because of my lack of knowledge, this was a complete failure and I did not even harvest the crop.’ A neighbouring commercial farmer saw his attempt and just had to intervene. He also introduced Johannes to the right team, who could teach him the correct agricultural practices to develop as a crop farmer.
This team was the Farmer Development team of Grain SA, and they changed his life. ‘I attended my first study group meeting in 2006 and gained so much knowledge there that I tried not to miss a get-together since then.’
Johannes is extremely grateful towards Grain SA, who began a programme to develop farmers with little or no knowledge into grain farmers who can contribute to food security in the country. ‘I met Ntate Johan (Kriel) at one of my first meetings and he has played an enormous part in my development from a beginner farmer to where I am today – a graduate of the 1 500 Ton Club of Grain SA.’ Last season Johannes realised the following yields: Maize – 6,8 t/ha, sunflower – 1,8 t/ha, and soybeans – 1,4 t/ha.
WHAT HAS HELPED YOU TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL FARMER?
Apart from hard work, I have never been afraid to ask for advice. I listen to people with knowledge and try to learn as much as I can from them. I have really fought hard to get everything right. It has taken me two years to get the green beans on standard, but I didn’t give up. I like a challenge!
HOW CAN THE YOUTH BE MOTIVATED TO FARM?
There are not many jobs available, but there is soil. I believe that young people have the wrong impression about farming. They think it is a hard job where you get dirty. They don’t realise that because people must eat, growing food and selling your products will ensure you have an income. I often get young people to help on the farm. I try to teach them that it isn’t difficult to grow vegetables – it is hard work, but anyone can do it.
ARE ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN INTERESTED IN FARMING?
Yes, my younger daughter has shown a keen interest in following in her father’s footsteps. She is attending Glen Agricultural College to learn more about grain production in preparation of her farming career.
JOHANNES’S THREE TOP TIPS
- Work hard.
- Know your soil because farming success is all about soil health.
- Be a hands-on farmer.
Farm: Olivine (210 ha) and Cradocksia (285 ha). He also rents additional land for planting.
Nearest town: Virginia
Region: Free State
Type of farming operation: Mixed farming with crops – he plants maize, sunflower and soybeans in a crop rotation system, and he also grows green beans. Livestock – cattle and sheep.
GRAIN SA’S CONTRIBUTION
• Joined Grain SA in 2004
• Welkom Study Group
• Became a 1 500 Ton Club graduate in 2022
Training courses completed:
Johannes has completed 20 of the 27 courses, which include:
• Introduction and advanced courses to maize, sunflower, wheat and soybean production and marketing
• Business ethics and farm management
A mentor’s view:
Johan Kriel, regional development manager in the Western Free State, says Johannes is a farmer at heart. ‘Farming is all he wants to do. He is keen to learn and not deterred by stumbling blocks. He does things right and pays his debt on time. After about 50 visits to his farm, he has perhaps become more of a family member than a mentee!’
Publication: October 2023