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January 2012


A new year surely means more than the changing of a season. Apart from the good memories I have of the picnic at the river on my grandfather’s farm, ginger beer, swimming and clay-stick shooting; a new calendar year has a good correlation with behaviour change.

It is a time when one can sit in a very relaxed atmosphere to reflect on your own behaviour and humanity. Unfortunately it is also true that we sometimes very blithely make new resolutions and when the New Year’s feeling fades, all the good intentions and resolutions disappear with it.

I am in particular referring to intentions that relate to healthier living, eating or ending bad habits. What then lies at the root of behavioural changes that last and that brings about real changes?

The leaders of an organisation must at some stage have formed a picture in their minds of what the ideal for an organisation such as Grain SA should be. Followed by what is necessary to reach the ideal. Then comes the first step, often the most difficult, but definitely also the most important: You declare your intentions in public and in such a manner that you call witnesses to hold you to your intentions. After the public disclosure come the self-discipline and plain hard work to every time resolve anew to make a choice against the old habits and practices.

Grain SA will in 2012 constantly have to evaluate whether the changes we announced in 2011 were just haphazard intentions or whether it signified the beginning of permanent changes. We are also in the new year going to enter a phase where the changes will not only be tested by the leadership, but it will begin to flow through to our members – members who buy in to the direction in which we as an organisation is moving.

These changes are going to be much closer to the skin than mere resolutions passed in board rooms and articles in the national media of the country. If we want to positively change the image of the agricultural producer and make the policy environment friendlier, it will affect each member of Grain SA. We need the self-discipline and hard work of every member. We need your positive attitude and especially your awareness and control of your tongue. It comes in the small moments when you are talking over the telephone or just chatting over the fence with your neighbour. And it is especially when you are cheering next to the school’s sports field or Sundays in the church’s parking area.

Newspaper headlines and the behaviour in particular of politicians and senior government officials in 2012 will offer enough challenges to establish whether the Grain SA changes are permanent or of a short duration only. Have we voiced these changes purely as a hope or a dream, or are we treating every challenge as an opportunity to advance one more step towards our objective?

I really do want to equate it with intentions that are typical of the new year, for instance dieting. To change the image of agriculture simply mean for our leaders and members not to enjoy and delight in negative complaints and grumbling when the first cream cake of news headlines about corruption or bad service delivery appear. To show self-discipline and to keep your opinion to yourself will be the challenge for 2012. More than ever before we are going to be tested in this year: Are we prepared to reach out a hand and not just condemn and join the disapproving choir, but to rather help where there is no financial gain for us?

Grain SA has a proven history of helping new producers to successfully establish their businesses in agriculture. We have turned intentions into deeds and will have to follow it up in 2012 to more than ever before take hands with government so that photos of once grand farms that have become derelict mainly as a result of the stripping of infrastructure and neglect, will never again be passed around.

We have chosen to do something about these sad pictures. We need you. We need your constant support when you write your membership cheque, your prayers that we make the right decisions, your vocal endorsement of the positive things that are happening, your self-discipline to guard your tongue, to change the image of the producer positively and your hands and skills to deliver service and food to our country.

What will the harvest of such changes be? I believe it will create a river for our children and their friends where they can swim, do clay-stick shooting and go to sleep with full bellies on New Year’s eve, with a smile on their faces and to be able to dream about the good year that lies ahead.

Happy new year!


Jannie de Villiers, CEO

Publication: January 2012

Section: Editorial