Agriculture’s New Year’s resolutions


New Year’s resolutions may seem passé, but they can be a great way of at least attempting to implement what is known as the Urgent-Important Matrix in your life.


This principle, first championed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the US, argues that we should prioritise tasks and goals in terms of urgency and importance, and delegate or entirely omit those that are less urgent or important.

To implement this principle in your decision making, begin by drawing up an Eisenhower Matrix.

This consists of four quadrants: important and urgent tasks and goals in the top left quadrant; important, but not urgent ones in the top right quadrant; urgent, but not important in the bottom left quadrant; and neither urgent nor important in the bottom right quadrant.

Without clear goals, or a list of New Year’s resolutions, the temptation to spend all your time on urgent matters can overwhelm you, so that you never make time for the important things.

Having a clear idea of what is important to you and your business will also ensure that you don’t allow others to define your priorities for you.

Here, to my mind, are some of the crucial issues that the SA farming sector should have on its list of New Year’s resolutions:

  • Deal with labour relations. The farming sector has come a long way in providing farmworkers with better living and working conditions, but there are still too many exceptions. In 2017, organised agriculture should make a greater effort to start self-policing labour matters in the sector.
  • Use water more efficiently. This applies to both the primary and secondary sectors. We are facing a water-constrained future and each player in the agricultural value chain needs to play a part in curbing wastage.
  • Stop waiting for government to drive transformation. Our government is not entirely ineffective, but if we are going to continue waiting for the state to take the lead in implementing successful land reform and transformation in the farming sector, we’ll all just end up poorer, angrier and more frustrated.
  • Organise a land ‘CODESA’. For at least the last eight years, leaders in agriculture have been calling for a CODESA-type process for land reform. Make 2017 the year in which this appeal is put into action.
  • Fire President Jacob Zuma. I add this to the list because I believe this should be on every New Year’s resolution list in South Africa for 2017. May this be the year in which the citizens of South Africa reclaim their democratic power to demand from government and Parliament a leader we can trust, and clearly voice that we are not willing to wait another two years for this to happen.