New energy at the 2012 Grain SA congress

Hats off to Jannie de Villiers and the Grain SA team for an exciting new approach to the organisation’s 2012 congress!

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This year’s maize parliament on 7 and 8 March at Grain SA’s ancestral home, Nampo Park outside Bothaville, was informative and entertaining with vigorous participation from the floor. Deputy minister of science and technology Derek Hanekom didn’t shy away from pressing issues and came with solutions and good intentions.

He acknowledged SA grain farmers as the very foundation of food provision in South Africa. And showed real empathy with the delegate’s challenges – especially when delegate Jan Grey from Ermelo presented him with a “paplepel” as a token of the farmers’ commitment to sustainable food production for SA and its people.

Jan also pointed out that wooden spoons could be used to discipline naughty and obstinate little boys (wink, wink!). I wonder who on earth he could have been referring to?

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Then there was Jenny Mathews’ presentation on the organisation’s sterling work in terms of emerging farmer development. Jenny’s served on the Grain SA Exco for the past seven years and I’m sad to announce she resigned from it at the congress. She will, however, still be involved in emerging farmer development.

Jenny and the Grain SA Farmer Development Programme team have developed the best programme of its kind in South Africa by far. Graan SA manne, hulle moet hulle hoed afhaal vir Jenny Mathews. Sy’s’n yster!

Our beloved Jonathan Jansen, rector and vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State, meanwhile, provided a breath of fresh air in the often maddening South Africa we live in. He knows how to handle a crowd, does Jansen. In his very entertaining way he didn’t hesitate to put Grain SA’s top team on the spot in front of the media delegation when asking for help in expanding the university’s agricultural engineering department.

Jannie had to sidestep him very warily.

And totsiens Neels Ferreira and welcome new chairperson Louw Steytler. Neels, I laud you for steering this dynamic organisation through some of its most turbulent times and Louw, I wish you luck with the task at hand. God Bless you both.

Nee wat, I detected a new energy and motivation among the members, and left the congress a happy woman. Congratulations.

Till next time, Annelie.

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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.