The good, the bad & the ugly

Boet, I’ve seen many things in my life, but the drought in the North West is the closest I’ve come to hell on earth.

The good, the bad & the ugly
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I’ve seen young men grow old and old men grow older, virtually overnight. I’ve seen farmers’ wives becoming ever quieter, ever withdrawn. I’ve seen children losing their innocence as they come to dread the future.

And I’ve seen this crisis bring out the worst and best in people, but mostly the best – there are still many good people in this land of ours.

I’ve given a lot of thought as to what I’d say in this, my first blog of 2014, my 30th year in agriculture.

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Initially, I wanted to rant and rave about government inefficiency, but that was before I spoke to Agri North West’s Cor Janse van Vuuren earlier this week.

Oom Cor, as he’s affectionately known among the young ‘uns in organised agriculture, nearly had me in tears when he told me about the support drought-stricken farmers in the North West have received – and are continuing to receive – from all corners of South Africa.

The main impetus was a Facebook campaign. Financial and animal feed donations immediately started coming in. In no time enough money was raised to fetch sugarcane stover from northern KwaZulu-Natal and lucerne from Aberdeen in the Eastern Cape.

This was followed by radio station RSG’s Amore Bekker and the ‘Dollars vir Droogte’ campaign, which raised even more money.

The Western Cape government and Agri Western Cape have in the meantime organised a train-full of animal feed. It’s expected in the North West within the next few weeks or so. How awesome is that?

How awesome is it for Agri North West’s two top managers, Boeta du Toit and Naude Pienaar, to give up their Christmas holidays in order to manage the influx of donations and co-ordinate the transportation of the feed coming in.

I salute you, Boeta and Naude! And you too, Cor. For your encouragement and support for the farmers in your province.

Although widespread rains have fallen over most of the western part of the country, there are still desperately dry areas in the south-western Free State, the Molopo area and the Northern Cape. Please keep these guys in your prayers.

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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.