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Learn what keeps the cogs turning

February 2023

If you are a farmer who regularly works with tractors and implements, it’s important to know every nut and bolt and what keeps the cogs turning. The same applies to being a member of Grain SA. It’s helpful to understand the workings of our organisation in order to realise what you can expect from them – and what they can expect from you.

There is a close relationship between grain farmer members and the management team doing the day-to-day work in Grain SA’s offices. It is strategically structured as follows:

  • The highest authority of the organisation is Grain SA’s annual Congress. The selected delegates are all bona fide grain farmers and they come together to represent the farmers in their particular regions. When you agree to be a delegate to Congress, you accept the responsibility to serve as the voice of the farmers in your region. Delegates must be prepared to speak up on matters that affect and concern the farmers in their region. It is also their duty to be a channel of communication back from Congress to the farmers ‘back home’. 
  • The Congress further has the responsibility of electing committed and dynamic individuals to the Grain SA Executive (the ‘Hoofbestuur’). Those individuals are more deeply involved in the continued processes of communication between the farmers and the Grain SA management team throughout the year. Among the key appointments made at Congress are Grain SA’s chairperson and two vice-chairpersons, who play an important role in representing farmers’ interests and championing farmers in the offices of government officials, policymakers and on numerous other public platforms. They are the face of the grain farmer in the media too.
  • Once Congress has ended, the newly appointed Executive immediately meets for the first time. The chairman will preside, and the committee will then elect a core Management committee of the executive (the ‘dagbestuur’). This is a smaller committee of the farmer leadership that meets regularly and is directly involved with all personnel matters, appointments, the financial management of the organisation and the day-to-day oversight. 
  • At the same meeting, the members of the Executive will identify their own areas of interest and volunteer their time to participate in the many different working groups. Each working group (WG) is chaired by a farmer on the Executive and focuses on the more specific issues of an aspect of grain farming – for example, the maize specialist WG, the oil and protein seeds WG, the winter cereals WG, the research and development WG, the farmer development WG and the editorial committees for SA Graan/Grain and Pula Imvula magazines. Grain SA’s personnel who are tasked with responsibilities for work that falls within the scope of each specialist working group, will also attend these meetings. In this way the farmers and the personnel members are always talking to each other, keeping the channels of communication flowing.

Delegates from the Western Cape at the annual Congress in 2022.


Grain SA’s Congress forms the highest authority of the organisation.

At the working group sessions, matters that can impact crop production are discussed.

Panel discussions form part of the congress programme.

A member of the Executive, Thomas Sibiya, was the voice of the farmers of Region 29 at the 2022 Congress.

Here to help you farm better

Farmers have long recognised the importance of using experts in the agricultural field to assist them so they can focus on what they do best – grow the grain, keep their farms on course to produce food and contribute towards stabilising rural economies.

This is why so many farmers willingly pay their annual levies to be mem­-bers of Grain SA. This dynamic organisation truly keeps its finger on the pulse of all matters influencing the agricultural environment and impacting farming operations. Here are some farmers who have benefitted from the input of the Grain SA experts – regional development coordinators and mentors – in the field.

Johan Kriel (on the right), regional development coordinator in the Free State and one of the Free State mentors, looks at the crops of a potential commercial farmer.

A mentor from the Maclear area helps Sopazi Lunyaweni from the Ugie area with his planning.

A Grain SA mentor checks the moisture content of farmer Sabasaba’s maize before harvesting takes place.

Graeme Engelbrecht, regional development coordinator at the Dundee office, helps farmers with maintenance.

Bridging the gap

The Farmer Development Programme has evolved over many years into its current status, which now falls under the umbrella of Grain SA, but is in the form of a new Section 18A company, Phahama Grain Phakama (PGP) – which means ‘growth for grain farmers’.

This new non-profit company is solely focused on grain farmer development through training, skills development and mentorship. It also has all the necessary compliances in place that are required by donors. It will focus on bridging the gap between where farmers are now and what is achievable.

The emphasis is on the commercialisation of new era producers, who will be supported towards achieving the best yields possible from the land available to them – using technology and current best practices – and so find they are positioned to contribute to national food production. At the same time, the existing support services to subsistence farmers and smallholders will remain in place since household food security and enterprise development remain priorities of the organisation. 

Publication: February 2023

Section: Pula/Imvula