Things to do this year

We all need some goals to work towards, even if it means resolving to have some faith in government’s promises to help emerging farmers, writes Phangisile.

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Welcome to 2011. It’s New Year’s resolution time. I know I promised I would tone down my resolution list and step up the performance, especially after my poor showing last year, but I still need something to work towards.

Resolution 1: I will proactively seek information to improve my broiler farming.
Continuing education and staying abreast of the latest information and developments in one’s field is important. I’m talking about attending conferences, subscribing to relevant publications, such as Farmer’s Weekly, and joining farmers’ associations.Although I’m suspicious of people – and especially government officials – who always seem to be in meetings or attending conferences instead of being out in the land helping us, this year I’ll forgive them in the hope they’re honing their skills to serve us better.

Resolution 2: I will keep indigenous goats again.
One of the delights that I had in my early farming days was raising indigenous goats. They practically looked after themselves and bred like rabbits. The secondary resolution to this is that under no circumstances will I be persuaded by tears or sob stories to deplete my female stock. That’s how I went out of this business in the 1990s. I sold my breeding females to people who had all kinds of stories about how “speculation goats” weren’t good for paying homage to their ancestors.

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“I’ve had a string of bad luck and I’m convinced my ancestors can’t hear my pleas, because the last three times I slaughtered the goats from the bus rank,” one told me. “They simply whimpered and had bowel movements. I need goats fresh from the veld that will give a loud cry to attract my ancestors’ attention.”Like a fool, I fell for this sob story and gave away one of my young females. In 2011, I’ll be tougher.

Resolution 3: I will convince myself to have faith in government’s proclaimed commitment to assist emerging farmers.
I’ve learnt that all over the world governments play an important role in sustaining and nurturing emerging farmers. I know our government also has some good schemes on paper, but I gave up on them when I became convinced they’re difficult to access unless you know someone who knows someone.But this is now 2011, 21 years after the dawn of the new South Africa with the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. Surely those in power have paid all their patronage debts by now. I must work on my impatience and believe that it’s now time for ordinary emerging farmers with no connections, but just a firm belief that all good things come from the land.