Programme Management and Personnel
As Grain SA, we are trying to contribute to the dream of a United and Prosperous Agricultural Sector. At the same time we have to address food security and food sovereignty, income generation for those who have access to land, protection of the natural resources and job creation. We are blessed indeed to be working iin a sector, which has the potential to contribute to all the pillars of rural development. The Development Programme is one of the core business units of Grain SA and we are well supported by other units within Grain SA. This assistance is in the form of personnel and financial management as well as the overall leadership and guidance of the programme.
The programme personnel are situated in several provinces:
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The Grain SA Farmer Development programme cannot exist without partnerships. Our sincere thanks go to the:
- Maize Trust
- Winter Cereals Trust
- Sorghum Trust
- Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust
- Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
- North West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
- Sasol Base Chemicals
Farming has always involved hard work, it can be said of farmers that they are not afraid to work hard. However, these days, grain farming requires far more than just hard work. We have identified certain factors, which are making the progress of development slow:
- Lack of knowledge, skills and experience:
Farming is a very wide field and you need to understand a huge diversity of issues. Theoretical knowledge alone is not enough – farmers learn from years and years of experience. In the South African context, developing farmers are mostly new entrants to the game and the rules of this game are complicated – good performance requires extreme fitness. With the profit margin being under extreme pressure, there is no margin for error. How do you gain experience, and who will catch you if you fall?
- Lack of production credit:
Developing farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to access production loans –as the profit margin is small and the risks are high. It is to be understood that financiers cannot lose money – they need to invest clients’ money wisely.
- Lack of adequate tractors and equipment:
Years of small profits have resulted in the decline in the condition of the fleet of tractors and implements – you need to make money so as to be able to invest in mechanisation.
- Constraints of land and land access:
Crops have to be produced on land which has the potential to yield a crop adequate to cover all production costs. Some farmers have access to lower production land where good yields are not possible, and yet. In the wetter eastern parts of South Africa, large quantities of lime are needed as the pH of the soil is too low for profitable crop production (the farmers cannot afford to pay for this lime). Many farmers are making use of communal land – often this is not adequately fenced and livestock damage the crops. The very small pieces of communal land pose challenges to efficient mechanisation.
In the light of the above constraints, we approach farmer development from different projects and programmes. We service the farmers in the following ways:
- Study groups
- Demonstration trials
- Farmers' days
- Farmer of the Year Competition
- Information dissemination through the Pula/Imvula - the magazine for developing farmers, published in seven languages