And so the rains came…

And so the rains have come… blessings in abundance! Genadewater, as we in the Free State like to call it.

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“Oh, the dance of our Sister!

First, over the hilltop she peeps stealthily and her eyes are shy and she laughs softly” – that’s how poet Eugene Marias once described the kind of soft rains that fell for days on end in the Free State and North West.

I cited this very same poem in October 2012 – and for many farmers in our neck of the woods it was probably the last time that they had soft, continuous rain.

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So, dear friends, you can understand that we feel like dancing in the rain, that we want to throw all our Platteland inhibitions overboard and rejoice. You see, not only does this rain mean the financial survival of many, it also means South Africa will have access to enough grain to feed the nation sustainably and affordably.

From Alexandra to Zastron, our people will be able to purchase home-grown food at a fraction of the price they would have had to pay for imported food.

And that is the crux of the matter. It’s crucially important that government put proper and accurate disaster relief procedures in place.

Wait, let me rephrase that. We actually do have excellent procedures in place. It’s just that they are poorly managed. Why else have the drought stricken parts of our country not yet officially been declared disaster areas? This despite the fact that the application was tabled in November last year.

Proper disaster management is essential to keep as many farmers as possible on their land. It’s currently particularly important for our livestock farmers – it doesn’t rain grass, as the saying goes.

It takes a minimum of six weeks before the veld has recuperated sufficiently for grazing. And then the farmers have to start building up their herds and flocks literally from scratch. And that goes for all farmers – commercial and otherwise.

Ag Boet, let’s hope sanity will prevail in the long run. But, in the meantime, we’ll rejoice and be glad because we have been so richly blessed.

Genadewater indeed!

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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.