‘Unity in SA’s grain production sector vital for the future’

The time had come for all role players in the South African grain production sector to re-evaluate their relevance and to co-operate in good faith. This was according to Derek Mathews, who was unanimously re-elected as chairperson of Grain SA (GSA) during the organisation’s 2023 congress.

‘Unity in SA’s grain production sector vital for the future’
SA’s grain farmers need to put up a united front to battle the challenges facing the industry, says Derek Mathews, Grain SA chairperson.
Photo: Annelie Coleman
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Unity was needed to formulate the way forward, as the future success of the grain industry would depend “on how successful we can function as team players”, he said.

“Fortunately, there is an increased drive in the grain industry to work together for future growth. To that effect, GSA succeeded in fostering excellent relationships down the agricultural value chain as well as with political functionaries. I am optimistic that role players in the grain industry will, through co-operation, find solutions to issues that pose threat to the industry,” Mathews said.

He added that during the past year, South African grain and oilseed producers had to continue dealing with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, as well as the detrimental effects of the war between Russia and Ukraine. Amid favourable weather conditions, local producers had to face exorbitant input prices as well as skyrocketing food inflation.

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“It was a volatile year that tested our ingenuity and endurance,” Mathews said.

According to him, GSA belonged to its members and could only be successful through its members’ support and inputs.

“It is important for grain producers that are not part of the GSA family to reconsider their position as the achievements of the organisation benefit all grain producers in the country. The grain producers of South Africa need to operate as a united and formidable force,” said Mathews.

Mathews said he was regularly confronted by questions pertaining to what GSA was doing for the grain producers of South Africa.

He consequently explained that the personnel and executive members of the organisation travelled 485 695km during the past year to visit members for networking purposes and to attend meetings that focused on a wide range of issues in the grain production sector.  A total of 96 meetings were attended during the past year, each lasting about 4,8 hours.

He also added that the continuation of GSA’s programme to support developing farmers to become independent, commercial grain producers remained of particular importance to the organisation.

This programme made it possible for GSA to assist government in its need to develop new farmers to contribute successfully to future food security in the country.

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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.