by Grain S.A.

Reaping the rewards

Grain SA is passionate about sharing expertise to the rural farmer

Grain SA provides on job training for rural farmers
african farming.jpg

Farmer development is not only about land, machines, markets, money, skills development and training. It encompasses all of the above, because development is a process and not an event, according to Ms Jane McPherson, Manager of the Farmer Development Programme of Grain SA.

As a flagship project of Grain SA, the programme provides training to developing farmers. The success of the programme, which was introduced in 2000, establishes a platform for healthy and sustainable transformation on a broad base. Through funding by the Maize Trust, Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust, Winter Cereal Trust, Sorghum Trust and the AgriSeta, R88-million has since been spent on training and developing black farmers.

The programme is proud to have ± 4 000 black farmers in its 109 study groups and a total of 66 black farmers in the 250 Ton club. As part of Grain SA’s advanced farmer programme, 120 farmers are currently being serviced with mentoring and on-farm support by development co-ordinators.

“The focus of any development programme must be on strengthening human capital. Therefore we should enhance human capabilities and use them productively. Also, one must never forget that development is achieved by self-reliance through effective participation. The bottom line of development is that it should be something that you do for yourself or it does not happen at all,” McPherson added.

At a function held on 23 August 2012 in Bloemfontein, Grain SA celebrated its harvest of emerging farmers who form part of the Farmer Development Programme. The day of celebration was organised to give recognition to emerging farmers for their contribution to the country’s food security.

CEO of Grain SA, Jannie de Villiers, said in his message to the developing farmers who attended the day of celebration, “You are the pride of our harvest. You are the trailblazers in whom we can see how to develop farmers in this country.”

The CEO of AgriSeta, Jerry Madiba, addressed the role of training in farmer development and said that when organisations co-operate, successful training takes place. He accentuated the fact that training changes attitudes and inspires people to reach higher goals. He thanked Grain SA for providing “on-the-job” training and developing the skills of emerging farmers.

The role of the farmer in transformation was highlighted by Karabo Peele, chairman of the Maize Trust. He said he is excited to see that Grain SA has shown other organisations what transformation is all about.

He encouraged farmers to adapt to the daily changes in agriculture and to not only listen to advice, but to apply what they have learned. “I support this organisation, as Grain SA has taught us to become farmers,” Peele added. Chairman of Grain SA, Louw Steytler discussed unity in agriculture and emphasised that co-operation is the key to success in the agricultural industry. “Unity can ensure food security in our country,” he stated and added that Grain SA is willing to play a leading role in the advancement of agriculture in South Africa.

Previously the 250 Ton Club had three levels – bronze, silver and gold – but this year a fourth level, platinum, had to be added when Israel Motlhabane managed to produce 1 500 tons during the past season.

A new member was added to the gold level for farmers producing over 1000 tons, while the silver level (production exceeding 500 tons) welcomed three new members. The 250 Ton Club’s bronze division awarded certificates and badges to six new members. This club celebrates the progress and hard work of these farmers and accentuates the importance of the Farmer Development Programme.

“It is important to also give recognition to those farmers who do not have large pieces of land to cultivate. One can produce food on small pieces of land if you do it correctly,” McPherson said to farmers at the day of celebration. As smaller farmers cannot compete with the bigger commercial farmers in the Farmer of the Year competition, a category for Small Holder Farmer of the Year and one for Subsistence Farmer of the Year were created so that these farmers could also receive recognition for their hard work.

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