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Focus on those things you can do something about

January 2018


What will 2018 hold for us as grain producers and citizens? I wonder what we would have done had some of the uncertainties been known to us in advance – would it to any extent have assisted us in taking on the future better?

Last year this time we dreamt of a year of recovery. With low grain prices and drought in the Western Cape, however, there were few signs of recovery.

At the time of writing this, the impossible became possible: President Mugabe of Zimbabwe resigned. It is somehow heartening that even the most loyal of supporters can come to the end of their tether. These events will most definitely have an effect on South Africa – politically and economically.

To speculate and to risk making predictions for 2018 have disappointed many people. Therefore, my advice is to focus on those things you can do something about in order to keep your farming operation sustainable: The managing of risks and the managing of income and expenses.

Over the years we have seen how innovative the South African grain producers are and that they are considered as the best in the world. It is especially on the expense side that the free market has groomed our producers over the past 20 years. The surpluses and low grain prices of 2017, however, were the unpleasant realities that reminded us that we also have to focus on the income side. We will forever remain price takers, but the management of price risks remains something we can pay attention to.

The role of Grain SA in 2018 will be to continue the work with regards to the improvement of the yields of all our grains through the research we are doing and the partnerships we form. Furthermore, we are going to endeavour to improve the entrance to markets (locally and internationally) with a view of addressing surpluses and we are going to work towards improving the policy environment to ensure sustainability.

In these turbulent times where the agricultural sector is sadly left to its own devices, we will continue to act collectively on behalf of producers and to create an environment where we ‘hear’ one another and take actions to improve conditions on the farm.

I do think that we as organisation should make more time to bear one anothers’ burdens. Generally, support to agriculture is rather negligible and therefore we are becoming more and more dependent on each other for support. This will definitely be a new challenge for 2018.

Grain SA would like to be there for each member when he/she individually has to make decisions during planting time or when selling produce or if there are disasters looming – or merely if there is a negative security situation.

I also notice that all the additional burdens that the state is shoving onto the citizens of our country are leaving their mark on leaders in agriculture. Their loads are getting heavier.

Despite all this, we remain positive about the future, not only as producers, but also as believers. That is something in our DNA which neither drought nor storm can obliterate. We call on our members not to withdraw or retract, but that we should reach out to fellow producers and help bear one anothers’ burdens in 2018.

Best wishes for 2018! 


Publication: January 2018

Section: Features