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What is the new kind of normal?

October 2015


JANNIE DE VILLIERS, uitvoerende hoofbestuurder/CEO

I sit pondering what I should write about this month. There is a freshness in the air and despite all the poor predictions for the season; we received some early rains in the north. The southern Cape is soaking wet and the Swartland area is taking a strain. One can only wonder when everything will just be normal again.

What is the new kind of normal? Wars are escalating and refugees worldwide are desperately seeking new homes. Not all are equally welcome everywhere. South Africa is still busy debating quotas in our sports teams when the EU announced that there will now be refugee quotas for all member countries. Incidentally, I wondered how a quota type of person would feel about this in his/her heart, because the decision-makers thereof often seem quite unperturbed about it.

There is a heavy anticipation in the air – as if the whole country is waiting for more than one significant thing to happen. The rand continues to tumble; markets are in stormy waters; the Rugby World Cup must begin…Or perhaps we are waiting for the next power outage?

In the agricultural arena the land negotiations have become somewhat quieter. Agri SA is engaged in preparations for their congress this month; the north is waiting for their planting season to commence and the south’s crop is still fragile. We are even waiting for the announcement of a new wheat tariff. Many of our developing farmers are waiting for assistance and land to live out their dreams on the farm.

During my high school years there was a booklet, Opstelle wat sprankel (Essays that sparkle), which I had to read to find out howan essay should really be written. One of the essays inspired me toone day personally write a neat piece of work about how the whole farm, in the midst of harvesting (wheat), was in a stir about a hail storm approaching the farm. That kind of waiting is not pleasant.

What will we as grain producers wait for? Yes, we are waiting for good rains and lower diesel prices, but I think if I have to be honest with myself today, we are waiting for the country’s attitude towards agriculture to change!

We are waiting for there to be more appreciation for the work that we do to feed everyone in the country and even a number of people in a few other countries on a daily basis. That, from early till late we plant with high risks, spray, till, harvest and transport crops so that all may have something to eat. That year after year we mortgage almost everything we have to win crops for all.

I do not think that we are seeking sympathy; we have after all made the choice to farm, but just some empathy if day after day the sun scorches plants lifeless and the clouds come and go, but it does not rain. It would be nice to have just some understanding for our emotions when a new born lamb did not make it because the ewe deserted it.

Where is the appreciation for the producer’s wife who repeatedly transports one of the farm workers’ children to the town hospital because she is ill? There is but little understanding of the talks in the front seat of the bakkie on a Monday morning en route to the school hostel. Maybe all the hardship will be easier to bear if one only knows that you as a person and what you are doing are being appreciated.

I do not know whether I have the authority, but today I wish to salute our grain producers, their families and their workers for the task they are doing on behalf of all the people of our country. Thank you very much.

Lastly, please also grant me a word of appreciation to the Maize Trust who has since 2000 until last month subsidised the SA Graan/Grain magazine. It went a long way in getting all the grain news to all in the country. Hopefully our paths will cross again in the future.

Publication: October 2015

Section: Features