Agriculture leaders must ‘uithaal en wys’

Mr Organised Agriculture Chairman: complacency is a dangerous thing. Don’t underestimate the value of your support base. Do not lose contact with your membership on a local level.

I’ve been in this job for many years and have seen what happens when leaders and top officials get so wrapped up with their comings and goings in the higher echelons they lose contact with the very people who put them in those positions. It’s not that they shouldn’t be mixing with SA’s high and might – they can’t afford to forget where they came from. 

Boetie (or should that be ‘Mr Boetie’?): when your members begin boycotting your meetings, it’s time to sit up and take notice. Or maybe it’s already too late. Re-deploy local leadership, begin engaging the people behind the apathy – but please just do something!

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If you don’t, you’ll soon begin to see a drop in financial support. A farmer’s gatsak is precious and he’ll only empty it for real value for money.

Mr Chairman Boetie, stop playing the blame-game, get off your backside and start engaging with your members. Lackadaisical leadership, whether at the top, or on a local level is unacceptable. If the leadership on local level is detrimental to the cause, crack the proverbial whip, for goodness’ sake!

I recently attended a Free State regional meeting organised by one of our leading commodity organisations. Seven farmers attended. Seven!

Who is to blame? I don’t know and frankly don’t care. The crux of the matter is that the leadership should take cognisance of the lack of support. This could very well set of a chain reaction that contaminates the entire organisation.

I increasingly come across farmers complaining about the growing division between leadership and grass roots members. And, agh asseblief, don’t come with the argument that there’re always disgruntled members in any organisation. That may be so, but the realities of sustainable agriculture in South Africa are such that no organisation can afford to lose even one member.

Come on boys (or girls), the time has come for uithaal en wys!

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.