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Sustainability is a journey, not a destination

February 2017


JANNIE DE VILLIERS, uitvoerende hoofbestuurder/CEO

Recovery year

The past festive season was really one of extremes in terms of wind and weather for summer grain production. Initially dry days with the wind blowing everything to dust and then excessive rains. The west is actually currently experiencing the severity of climate change.

The weather had the emotions of grain producers fluctuating like a yo-yo of old. The emotions of some remained at the bottom until the sluices of heaven literally opened at the end of the first week of January this year. During the holidays, I came across an excellent quotation that made me think of the grain producers of South Africa: ‘Are you potted or planted?’ the writer asked.

If you are a potted plant and the wind turns west and challenges come blowing like dust storms, you quickly move or your thoughts wander to Australia or Argentina. But if you are planted by the back door like a pepper tree, you stand where you stand and deal with the storms. I myself planted 18 new trees over the festive season to symbolise that I have a long-term vision for our country and its people. Trees are a legacy for a following generation: Not only that they will remember and appreciate us, but also that there will be shadows to rest under when the sun burns mercilessly and the wind blows west. Pot plants seldom leave one or another legacy.

You and I live in a period where only a small minority of individuals strive towards offering their lives for goals that are bigger than themselves. Grain SA in particular has the goal to leave a legacy for the country. We do not just live life in the here and now, but also consider sustainability as a journey and not a destination.

During the Congress in March this year we would like to search for the road that leads towards it together. I read how the world is getting worried about so many things we have no control over, rather than to believe in the One who has everything in His control.

When Christmas had passed and photos of dust clouds still filled the WhatsApp groups’ screens, our faith withered. Nevertheless, we were once again miraculously cared for! It was quite interesting for me to note in an old SA Graan/Grain publication that the columnist Oom Lang Hans reported that the rains after the drought of 1985 also started on 7 January.

Come, let us live and plan the future like a tree firmly planted in South Africa. Let us not plan as if we are pot plants that can be shifted here and there depending on the challenges of the day. Challenges will always be there. If not posed by nature, the politicians will see to it. It is the way we respond to these challenges that is important. There will be challenges in 2017; let us tackle them together and show the world why the South African producers are regularly referred to as the best in the world.

Publication: February 2017

Section: Features