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Table tennis at its best

March 2015


JANNIE DE VILLIERS, uitvoerende hoofbestuurder/CEO

In recent months I have experienced a very interesting phenomenon. On a regular basis something extremely positive has happened to me personally or to Grain SA, only to be followed within a very short time frame by something bad at the opposite pole of life.

It is like table tennis. The occurrence of pleasure thieves is something not unfamiliar to me, but the specific timing of it and the high level of intensity were undeniably quite different. My emotional boundaries of ups and downs were definitely severely tested. I would on the one day find prominent, loyal supporters of Grain SA becoming opponents, and the next day a compliment comes from a totally unexpected corner. We are experiencing breakthroughs with matters we have been grappling with for years, only to discover a new mountain to be crossed the next day.

That is most likely the manner in which a weather market operates. Should there be a possibility of rain, prices decrease too drastically and if the weather forecast is not positive, prices climb excessively. Extremes are of course a remarkable breeding ground for conflict, stress and misunderstandings. It is under these conditions that your character is tested and formed.

One of my mentors, years ago, pointed out to me that a person requires very little leadership ability when everything is going smoothly, but in difficult times it is needed the most – then self-control, patience and faith are the subjects you have to pass to move on to the next level. There is a saying which states that when the students are writing exams, the professors and lecturers are dead quiet. It is in such a lull that we as an organisation find ourselves now.

Our leadership meetings are very intense, serious and definitely directional for the future. The team of leaders are dedicated to the affairs of the grain producer and they go about these matters with great gravity. The organisation is very fortunate to have such men and women steering the business. They regularly make the mind shift from farm level to national problems.

The Executive of Grain SA had a meeting early in February and although the content of the meeting was very good, the general frame of mind definitely was not. The summer grains are dying off from the drought and all possible life in the plants (and their owners) were wilting rapidly. It was even pointed out that the current government had not yet experienced a general drought since coming to power. This unleashed a whole waterfall of emotions.

Eskom is already going out of its way to sink the economy and a drought with disastrous consequences for agriculture and the rural areas will really be a very difficult combination. The second half of February is going to be decisive. It remains difficult to prevent one’s thoughts from playing havoc with you. Our only compensation in this instance is our faith. Our strength, however, lies in quietude and trust!

It is during these times of table tennis emotions that we need anchors to carry us through – these anchors are our faith and men and women who have gone through these processes many times. God speed!

Publication: March 2015

Section: Features