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Perspektief | Perspective Week 17 - 2018

26 Apr 2018





The NAMPO Harvest Day 2018 engine is roaring at the starting line in anticipation for this trendsetting agricultural show that will be presented outside Bothaville on 15 to 18 May.

With roughly 740 exhibitors and an expected attendance figure that could exceed last year’s 78 648 visitors, Grain SA’s NAMPO Harvest Day is regarded as the heartbeat of agriculture in South Africa. It offers producers a unique platform to network with the agricultural industry's top role players, strengthen friendships and relationships and come and enjoy what NAMPO offers in a peaceful farming atmosphere.

‘South Africa’s agricultural producers’ openness to new technology is one of the main reasons why the country can claim to provide sustainable food production. “Efficiency with technology” is this year’s theme, and it is very popular among producers,’ says Mr Jannie de Villiers, CEO of Grain SA.

NAMPO 2018 offers a diversified exhibition with a variety of new technology, products and services on one site. Producers can make comparisons and informed decisions with a view to sustainable productivity and profitability. ‘Grain SA’s focus on a better rather than a bigger NAMPO Harvest Day will also be pursued continuously to uphold and promote this agricultural family experience,’ De Villiers says.

Read the full NAMPO press release here





Petru Fourie, Research Coordinator and Agricultural Economist

The agricultural production conditions indicate producers started harvesting soybeans and sunflower here and there with expectations that harvesting should increase next week. Maize harvesting should only commence in June/July. In the Western Cape, despite the subsoil and topsoil being very dry, producers started planting in the dry soil. If the rain that has been predicted for the week, realise, producers should start planting in earnest.

Click the images below for full screen view




THE CORNER POST - Mentorship saved my life

In a previous edition of Perspective, we shared a Pula/Imvula article, finding out more about Edwin Thulo Mahlatsi from Bothaville in the Free State. With the support of Grain SA and the help of his mentor, Christiaan Bouwer, Edwin was the winner of the 2017 Grain SA/Absa/John Deere Financial New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year award. He received a brand new John Deere 5065 MFWD OOS tractor as part of his prize.

A winner’s mentor
In an interview after winning, Edwin said the following about his mentor, Christiaan: ‘I have known him since he was a little boy. I also know his father. Ours has been a long journey. He helps me a lot and does so with a kind heart.’ Edwin received his award at the Grain SA Producer of the Year function held on 13 October 2017 in Johannesburg. Mr Johan Kriel (Development Co-ordinator, Grain SA) who was the interpreter during Edwin’s acceptance speech shared the following: ‘Christiaan informed me that the work he has done with Edwin saved his life. It kept him busy and strengthened his trust in God. He added that Edwin and his family are phenomenal people’.

An American called Heidi Wills said the following about the value of making a difference: ‘We can choose to be affected by the world or we can choose to affect the world.’ By becoming a mentor Christiaan chose the latter and did not let the effects of the ongoing drought affect him negatively. He focused on helping a fellow farmer build up his farming practice.

Christiaan has been farming in the Bothaville district since 1995 and has a mixed farming enterprise comprising of cattle, maize and sunflower. In 2015 he was approached by Grain SA to join the mentorship programme. He did not hesitate and took Edwin, whose farm is less than 20 km away, under his wing. ‘I have known Edwin for years as he worked for our neighbour’s grandfather. We have a good relationship,’ he says.

Before the onset of the season, these two sit down to discuss the season ahead. ‘It’s important to know beforehand what you will require for the season, which farming operations will have to be done and to look at the cost implication.’ They both know that failing to plan, is planning to fail and agree with the statement made by American author, Robert Mckain: ‘Strategic planning will help you fully uncover your available options, set priorities for them and define the methods to achieve them’.

Christiaan tries his best to visit Edwin at least twice a week. When time does not allow for regular visits, Edwin calls frequently to keep Christiaan updated about his farming activities. ‘Edwin shares everything with me and sometimes we see each other four times a week visiting each other’s farms to discuss our shared passion.’ Whether they speak Afrikaans or Sesotho the topic is always agriculture.

Being a mentor has meant a lot to me and I wish more people would get involved in this worthy programme.’ He shares that this programme has changed his view on various issues and he realised that when you help someone else, you are actually helping yourself. According to the well-known evangelist, Joel Osteen, being successful doesn’t necessarily make you great. What makes you great is when you reach out and help somebody else become great. We trust that 2018 will see many great mentors emerge. 

A mentor’s advice
To Christiaan it is wonderful to see the impact this programme has had on Edwin’s farming operation. ‘I enjoy seeing how he is prospering simply because he follows advise. Edwin does not see me as his mentor, but as his neighbour. We actually farm together as we share the same passion and work well together.’ Christiaan says they share advice with each other and sometimes have a lengthy discussion when their opinions differ.

Because Edwin is a farmer at heart, who worked on a farm from a young age he knew the basics of farming. Christiaan says Edwin also understood the financial aspect of farming from the onset of his farming operation. ‘I didn’t need to teach him anything about the financial side of farming. It is something that came naturally to him. He only needed a bit of guidance with time management.’ 

Christiaan taught him to:

  • Begin at the right time. Whether it means planning, planting or fertilising, time is of the utmost importance.
  • Take your time. Making impulsive or rushed decisions can be costly in a farming operation. Farmers must learn from nature: Nature doesn’t rush, yet accomplish everything.
  • Make time count. There’s a saying, time is a coin that you can spend only once – use it, invest it and make it count. When you do something, take your time, but do it right the first time. This saves time and money.

A mentor’s dream for his mentee
The highlight for any mentor is seeing their mentee walk away as one of the finalist (or winner) on the Day of Celebration. To this team the adjudication was also a highlight as they had worked hard to get everything ready. ‘Our objective was to win the tractor and we did it!’

If Christiaan could remove a stumbling block in Edwin’s path, it would be to ensure that the land becomes his own and that he could get the title deed to prove that it is his as without it he has no security. ‘It’s not fair that he still has to pay rent on this ground in which he pours his blood, sweat and tears,’ Christiaan adds.

He hopes that Edwin will continue to grow as a farmer and develop the necessary confidence and determination to continue on his own. ‘I know that he is ready to be my neighbouring farmer and not my mentee, he just has to believe it!’


This article originally appeared in Pula/Imvula March 2018 which can be accessed here





A completed project report entitled “Handbook on Adaptation to Climate Change for Farmers, Officials and Others in the Agriculture Sector of South Africa”  has been submitted to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries by Prof Roland E. Schulze, from the Centre for Water Resources Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

This volume of 672 pages and made up of 47 chapters is now available on-line at http://www.daff.gov.za/daffweb3/Branches/Forestry-Natural-Resources-Management/Climate-Change-and-Disaster-Management/Climate-Change-Unit  

For ease of downloading the Handbook has been split into three parts, and because agriculture is such a wide field, the handbook has furthermore been made available as 16 thematic booklets, viz.

Booklet 1           Agriculture and Climate Change in South Africa: On Vulnerability, Adaptation and Climate Smart Agriculture
Booklet 2           Agriculture’s Natural Capital in South Africa 1: The Biophysical Environment            
Booklet 3           Agriculture’s Natural Capital in South Africa 1: Weather and Climate – Now and into the Future
Booklet 4           Crops and Climate Change in South Africa 1: Cereal Crops
Booklet 5           Crops and Climate Change in South Africa 2: Other Crops, Including Biofuel Feedstock Crops
Booklet 6           Crops and Climate Change in South Africa 3: Indigenous Crops
Booklet 7           Natural and Planted Grasslands and Climate Change in South Africa
Booklet 8           Horticultural Crops and Climate Change in South Africa: Potatoes
Booklet 9           Horticultural Crops and Climate Change in South Africa: Deciduous Fruits - Viticulture
Booklet 10         Horticultural Crops and Climate Change in South Africa: Selected Sub-Tropical Fruits
Booklet 11         Livestock and Climate Change in South Africa: Selected Themes
Booklet 12         Tree Crop Systems and Climate Change in South Africa
Booklet 13         Irrigation and Climate Change in South Africa
Booklet 14         Hazards and Climate Change in South Africa: Fire Danger Rating under Natural Conditions
Booklet 15         Agriculture’s Human Dimension in South Africa and Climate Change: Some Selected Themes
Booklet 16         Biofuel Feedstock Production in South Africa and Climate Change

These booklets may be downloaded separately.




The judging process for the Day of Celebration nominees - set to take place on 26 September 2018 at NAMPO Park, has been completed. Four different categories for Farmer of the Year was assessed.

The panel, which included Grain SA's dr Willie Kotzé, Liana Stroebel, Du Toit van der Westhuizen, Reggie Mchunu from Pannar, Charles Matlou from Pioneer, Sandile Khumalo from Monsanto, and Dirk van Rensburg, travelled in the region of 8,000 km and evaluated 15 Subsistence farmers, four Smallholder farmers, six Potential Commercial farmers and 6 New Era Commercial farmers.

"Each year, more farmers are participating in the competition and each year it is more difficult to compare them as they are all excellent" Jane McPherson, Grain SA's Manager for Farmer Development said.