RUTH SCHULTZ, SA GRAAN/GRAIN CONTRIBUTOR
“Keep building on your success, because your success as a finalist is everyone in agriculture’s success,” Louw Steytler (chairman: Grain SA) told all the finalists at the Grain Producer of the Year Awards Function, that took place at the Theatre on the Track on 11 October in Midrand.
Anthony Evans of the Rhys Evans Group, Viljoenskroon, was announced as the winner of the Grain SA/Syngenta Grain Producer of 2013 and Maurice Boki from the farm Horncroft, situated between Cedarville and Taylorville, was announced as the Grain SA/Absa Developing Grain Producer of the Year 2013. Kobus van Zyl, who is currently working for Omnia, received the award for Agriculturist of the Year 2013.
Kobus van Zyl, who is currently working for Omnia, received the award for Agriculturist of the Year 2013.
The challenge, opportunity and responsibility
According to Antonie Delport (managing director: Syngenta South Africa) we need to produce more food in the next 50 years than in the past 10 000 years. “Do you sense the challenge?” he asked.
“Today we are consuming at the rate of the equivalent of 1,5 planets of earth and we obviously only have one. Can you now spot the opportunity? Clearly this is not sustainable.”
“The big question is: How are we going to feed the world without damaging the planet?”
The growing concern regarding enough food was profiled in September this year on Carte Blanche, in the insert reporting on “city farming”. “There is a growing trend in cities, from Brisbane to New York, to use the roof-tops of high-rise buildings for ‘sky-high farming’. Is this something for the future in terms of farming?”
What about the responsibility? “Each one of us has a huge responsibility in terms of leadership to ensure the safety and sustainability of planet earth. So often we get distracted by little things that take our focus off the ball. It is like a loose shoe lace in a race. We will not win if everybody is not participating,” he said.
Syngenta took a leadership role in two spheres of influence. The first was addressing the critical challenges for the planet and its people with the recent world-wide launch of Syngenta’s Good Growth Plan. Secondly, Syngenta launched the first ever South African Grain Academy, to build leadership capacity for shaping tomorrow’s agricultural future. Tony da
Costa, from Nigel, represents the third generation of the Da Costas. His dad, Manny, and uncle, Johnny, are previous winners of the Grain SA/Syngenta Grain Producer of the Year award. Delport called Tony da Costa on stage to share how he experienced the Syngenta Grain Academy. One of the questions Delport asked Da Costa, was what he has learned from this journey that he can apply in his farming business today.
“I felt that I have been given shoes a long time ago, which I have been wearing, but only now have I learnt to tie my shoe laces. On this course I learnt the importance of people. Employees are not simply human resources, but assets. One of the most important things I learnt was that it is not always about the money as remuneration. People work for me for four main reasons, namely: The need to acquire, the need to belong, the need to socialise and the need to defend. But every time we try and motivate our employees, we do it with money. What about tackling the other needs?” Da Costa said.
“It’s grain producers like Tony and the other producers here tonight, whose energy and commitment makes us at Syngenta excited about the future possibilities of agriculture in this country. An industry that feeds you is an industry worth fighting for. Are you ready for this? Syngenta is!” Delport concluded.