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The turning of the season

October 2014


JANNIE DE VILLIERS, uitvoerende hoofbestuurder/CEO

October just remains a very special month in the Southern Hemisphere. It might not be the beginning of a new year, but rather the turning of the season holding so many promises for those who till the soil.

Harvests ripen and harvest time starts for the men in the south. For the producers in the north it is planting time. For us as grain producers the turning of a season has a very special effect on our lives, not only physically, but in other ways too.

There are buds indicating the signs that the season is turning, the temperature changes and for some the rain comes. Today, however, I wish to share some of the few buds that I have noticed this past month. Buds in our agricultural political environment.

The new Minister of Agriculture responded positively within 24 hours of our invitation to officially open the new Grain SA office in Maclear in the Eastern Cape. He was there and he was there well in time before the event started. He did not just arrive, deliver a speech and take off again. He came to visit, chatted with the producers and in total spent three hours with us. This is a new bud! How I enjoyed it when the minister told us of his experience with his own farm worker and then closed his sentence and (as a producers) said that he also did not want to share his farm with his farm worker!

The participation of the wider community in the land debate is really also a new bud, introducing a new season. Now there is a growing realism that has kicked in regarding the feasibility of the suggestions to share productive agricultural land with workers. Fresh ideas from other participants generated new expectations of possible alternative solutions to the problem.

In addition, the buds of the economic recovery in the Northern Hemisphere will definitely impact positively on the demand for grains. A growing middle class and urbanisation have a positive effect on the demand for our products. I believe it is the wish of everybody that the conflict in the Middle East would come to an end, however, the events there will have a decided impact on future trading in the world.

Definite opportunities for South African grain producers may sprout from this. Keep in mind that the USA might possibly keep more of their maize for fuel production to further increase their independence. With the Middle East a desert, large importers of maize as well as South Africa are well positioned to serve these markets in future. These are new buds!

All buds carry the promise of fruit, but not all buds bear good fruit. The headway Grain SA is making to grow as an organisation and contribute to help agriculture transform and also promote food security, quite often elicit reactions from people that we can only refer to as jealousy. It is like the egg of a fruit fly laid by people in relationships to obstruct the speed of progress. Many of these actions point to the search for self-profit only. Let us rather work together to nurture the buds and keep relationships healthy so that they may bear good fruit.

The last bud I wish to write about is still young, but it is definitely there. It is the improvement of our grain producers’ relationship with our workers. There are just so many efforts from our members to improve the conditions of their workers and their people and to increase their knowledge and productivity.

The articles about best practices we have published in SA Graan/Grain for the past seven months were intended to exchange ideasamong our readers (as co-producers) as to which practices alreadybeing implemented, are effective and deliver good results.

I wish to encourage you to try them yourself; help us then by sending us your best practices to share with our other readers. Grain producers can in this manner also show the way forward.

Publication: October 2014

Section: Features