South African farmers have a tremendous ability to produce as has been proven over the years.
Even throughout the pandemic, agriculture is one of the few sectors that registered significant growth. We have favourable climatic conditions as well as good production practices.
The South African farmer is also benefiting from high international prices for citrus, grapes, apples as well as grain. Feeds and red meat are also big export earners for us together with wool and cotton. Overall, the sector is performing well but we still have challenges with infrastructure.
The absolute corruption of the previous President and a criminal gang around him damaged the infrastructure we need to thrive.
We are a country that could have experienced much more growth than we have now if it were not for the corruption of the previous administration. The infrastructure that had been laid out was eroded by that regime and now we are starting fresh. The rand is strengthening now against the dollar and it’s all because of the choices made at the polls.
The current leadership has shown that things can change quickly and they can restore former glories. A lot of the current political and social struggles come from the legacy of apartheid that we are trying to set right. I see countries all over Africa beginning to realise their potential and agricultural fortunes are turning around all over the continent.
Local communities and NGOs have tremendous power to fight corruption and hold power accountable.
The stability we are beginning to see now can be maintained by the power of local communities and NGOs. Locals are the ones that can hold politicians accountable. We at Senwes have shown leadership in this regard by taking care of our environs and then holding local municipal officials accountable.
It is unethical to make money to create income from a community without being involved in the community.
Sustainable relationships must be cultivated very well to ensure success and longevity. If you deal with the farmer in an area, you must also ensure the benefits trickle down to his/her workers. The opposite of that is just to take away from a community without looking back. You don’t want to gain such a reputation as a business.
Sustainability means repairing the entire local value chain.
We cannot do without sustainable agriculture models here. Sustainability to us means repairing the local value chain. We had a textile industry in South Africa at one point that was quite vibrant. Big imports of garments from China and India came in and rocked the whole industry and our local chain suffered. It took dialogue between farmers and the retail sector to try and restore the value chain. Retailers have now committed to making big local garment purchases, and this has revived the textile industry considerably.
We have also imported other goods like Soya cake in the past in large amounts which also hampered our local ability. Currently, we are producing large amounts of the same product. Sustainability is all about protecting the value chain through beneficiation, market access and prices.
Regenerative agriculture has been growing in strength over the past 15 years. Our farmers are very adaptable. We must communicate how to change, and not only why.
It’s great to see regenerative farming thriving in South Africa. It has been growing over the last fifteen years and is steadily progressing. Farmers have realised that they cannot continue pursuing some practices and are now fully onboard. There is still a long way to go not only in South Africa but globally. We talk of governments not embracing sustainability, but private commercial interests can also be corruptible.
If it becomes all about enriching the shareholders, then things will go bad quickly. We must encourage farmers to change their practices by presenting researched evidence that unsustainable methods don’t work. If we show farmers the benefits of regenerative agriculture, they will not only adopt that but also become ambassadors for it.