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The truck eventually stops in front of your door

May 2017


With all the developments in the political arena, it is clear that the politicians’ balance sheet is actually worse than that of grain growers. Junk status is a clear message that one, measured against world standards, has not made it.

That is what happens if you do not continually measure yourself against what you think is the standard. In the final analysis, what you believe is right or wrong is not important. To measure yourself objectively is brave, but also wise.

Voter boxes, credit ratings and competitive indices are yardsticks that make it less easy for politicians to pull the wool over our eyes. In life there are, however, two reactions to disappointments of this nature: Those who deny it and who act as if it does not exist and those who take note of it and make adjustments to correct matters and improve them.

Time will tell which route the politicians in the country will take. However, it is important to take note of their deeds and not just listen to their words.

The grain producers of the country, however, cannot just sit on the side-line trying to take the splinters from others’ eyes. We have just gone through a season where it seems we also have a few beams of our own to sort out.

Fortunately, our ability to embrace and apply new technology to make the best of weather conditions is excellent. It is wonderful to see how this ability is translated into tons of yield, but it seems like we fall a bit short in the converting thereof into (junk) rands. We are not yet at the same level of the world standard when it comes to tons per hectare or kilograms per millimetre of rain, but we are almost there.

With good research and good production practices we are making good progress up this hill. The field that we will in future have to pay more attention to, is marketing. We can also, like politicians, blame someone else or blame market rules and capitalists, but as is the case with President Zuma, the truck eventually stops in front of your door.

It is quite interesting that with the swing of the pendulum (from maize imports to maize exports) there are a few rules in the market that suddenly now also bother the buyers. This development is nearly like politics: New partners under new conditions.

We will work with anyone who wish to make the market a better and fairer place. This is one expression of Prof Eckart Kassier I will never forget: You constantly have to work on improving the market.

In this regard, I do wish to raise my proverbial hat to the JSE who last month was brave enough to change a few rules of the game for the wheat industry – in favour of the producers – despite the fact that the buyers did not all agree. We will have to wait and see whether the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will display the same amount of courage when changes to the grading rules are to be introduced.

I wish to encourage you to divide your time meaningfully between new technology for production and marketing improvements during NAMPO 2017. Talk to the traders and marketers about new strategies.

Ask your fellow producers what worked for them and what did not work. It is no shame to ask advice. Even the Bible encourages us to have a large number of advisors. These past few weeks we have seen what happens to the political leaders of our country when they try to do things on their own and not ask advice. Come, let us as grain producers not make the same mistakes.

Enjoy NAMPO 2017 and all the best to the producers in the south with the new planting season.

Publication: May 2017

Section: Features