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Together we are growing food, people and prosperity

January 2021

Jenny Mathews, Pula Imvula 
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The grain SA Farmer Development Programme focuses as much on meaningful human development as on agricultural production practices. Through the work done in this programme, food security and the productivity of the grain producing sector have been strengthened. 

Many South African farmers have renewed confidence and hope and thousands of developing farmers in South Africa are reaping the reward of doing the right thing at the right time in the right way. The Grain SA Farmer Development team engages with farmers, goes the extra mile and gets involved.

We believe development is about the individual and is not only about land, machines, markets, money, skills development and training – development is about all of the above and is a process and not a leap.

Study groups

We were very pleased that we could start up our study group meetings in time for the new summer growing season after the lockdown period. 

The establishment of a study group sets the Grain SA footprint in key grain growing regions – even in very remote areas. It is the point of entry for a new farmer. This is where we get to know the farmers – and they learn to trust us. It is also the place where we get the opportunity to identify unique challenges and opportunities in a specific region as well as to transfer important knowledge and skills. Our teams of managers and mentors can be instrumental in updating farming systems and changing the lives of hard-working farming folk.

From 1 October to 17 November 2020 we held 352 study group meetings in the regions, particularly focussing on new season production, launching new season projects and even organising inputs to be purchased and delivered to the participating farmers. 

Have you heard about our Beyond Abundance (BA) project?
Grain SA’s five-year initiative rolled out in collaboration with the Jobs Fund of National Treasury and other key donors and contributors – ‘From Subsistence to Abundance’ has been an encouraging model of farmer development. Year on year it became evident that farmers were embracing new ideas, using new technologies and adapting to new farming practices – and feeling rewarded for their efforts. Most significantly, there was a ripple effect as neighbouring farmers saw the fruits of the changes and joined in the project too. 

With no further funding beyond the planned five year project forthcoming from the Jobs Fund, the project could have ended, but the farmers had so much drive to build on what they had learned and their requests for more training and knowledge and mentorship gave impetus to a new project – Beyond Abundance. 

Our inspiration

  • Farmers have seen results in spite of challenging conditions like droughts and pests. 
  • Farmers are inspired by what they have learned and the results they have seen. 
  • Farmers are excited by the new possibilities their farming livelihoods offer them. 
  • Farmers have already put their hard-earned money ‘in the bank’ for the new season.

Company support
During 2019/2020 a number of companies continued with their support to the farmers in the new Beyond Abundance programme and each participating farmer received: 

  • Bayer supplied 10 kg seed which is adequate for 1 ha. 
  • SA Lime and Gypsum supplied lime in a 50 kg bag.
  • Kynoch bagged fertiliser in 50 kg bags.
  • Villa Crop packaged the pre- and post-emergence chemicals in a 1 kg pack. 

5 043 farmers eventually deposited their R3 500/ha in their TPFA accounts. The Beyond Abundance farmers’ maize crop yields were fantastic. The yields averaged 4,3 t/ha while the countrywide average was 5,9 t/ha. We couldn’t be more delighted with this – the fruits of our labours being harvested by so many farmers.

This year 3 160 ha have been planted in the Beyond Abundance project – 95% of the participants are growing maize on 1 ha and are contributing towards improved household food security and nutrition levels. We are trusting the season ahead will bear even more fruit as we walk beside the developing farmers.

Farm visits to support individual farmers
‘Who will catch them if they fall?’ A need was identified to support advanced developing farmers who have grown beyond study groups and are almost ready to farm independently, but will likely benefit from a year’s intensive one-to-one mentoring. Our team of managers have already made 136 farm visits to offer support to individual farmers during October and November.

Publication: January 2021

Section: Pula/Imvula