by Jannie De Villiers

A word from the CEO

Nature determines our food supply

Sustainable production of grains requires strong and skilled farmers
grains.jpg

Inside was a group of farmers quiet and humble, discussing the weather.

Their maize, soy beans and sunflowers were standing outside in the blazing sun – everything was waiting for the rain to come.

One of the older gentlemen opened the meeting with a verse from Scripture and a prayer. He encouraged the younger farmers to keep faith. He spoke about the droughts since his childhood and how to keep faith in times like these. There is a saying that ‘a farmer dies two weeks before a maize plant’.

The long and excessive heat of this summer triggered another plague; army worms. They appear out of nowhere and are absolutely devastating on grass fields for the animals and the maize fields.

The farmers showed each other photographs on their cell phones of the stubbles left behind by the army worms, and yet, these farmers are still positive and optimistic.

They are the ones facing the severe side of nature and who have to produce food for our people. Today I want to spare a thought to those new black farmers who, with the assis- tance of the government’s recapitalisation programme, have planted their first commercial scale crops this season.

The financial assistance helped them to get the crops in the ground, but only God can provide the rain to make the maize and sunflowers grow. Luckily their mentors have been in this position before and can help them to endure. Sustainable food production needs faith and endurance.

On the one side of the food chain we find the poor mother looking at food prices and who worries about where the next meal for her kids will come from and on the other side of this chain is a farmer, getting up every morning, staring at heaven, hoping that the rain will come in time to save his crop.

Sustainable production needs strong and skillful farmers. People that can stand the test of time are needed to transfer the skills and experience from one generation to the next for the sake of all of us. Although food production remains the most important goal for farming, one area where South Africa is yielding well, is the rate of skill development of new black and younger farmers.

This rate seems to surpass even the rate of land reform. There are more and more farmers who are ready to take on this challenge. Land, especially communal land, is available and through the partnerships between the government and the private sector, the financing taps are opening slowly.

 

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