Our farmers deserve honour

Throughout the drought and challenges they faced during the year, our farmers kept ploughing on.

Yet another year bites the dust. It is time to look back and ask ourselves if we have achieved the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year. While things went as expected for some people, others had no such luck. The latter, I imagine, include farmers in North West who experienced a challenging year – they were the most hard-hit by the drought that spread across many parts of the country.

While South Africa is currently experiencing good rains, some farmers in the province are still feeling the pain as the heavens in this area are yet to open. Large numbers of cattle have died, and many farmers have been forced to sell their animals at the lowest prices to avoid losing them to starvation and thirst.

Yet these farmers have continued to struggle onward, regardless of their situation. And they have done so with very little assistance from the authorities. Many farmers were victims of hail, floods and fires, which almost destroyed what they had worked hard to achieve. I know of a family outside Pretoria who lost their entire goat flock to a recent hailstorm that caused damage across many parts of Gauteng.

Drought
I recently spoke to Moses Zengetwa, the 2013 ARC National Emerging Beef Farmer of the year, who epitomises these farmers’ determination and faith.He said that because of the drought, business had not been particularly good, but it had not been all that bad either. He admitted, though, that a great deal of money had been spent on feed. Zengetwa said that patience, optimism and trust in God were all needed in order to be a successful farmer.

“In agriculture, things don’t happen overnight,” he said, adding that although the year had been horrible due to the drought, it had not stopped him from climbing onto his tractor at the start of the planting season to prepare the land. “I always think that things will be better next season. This is because I believe God will make things better,” he said.

Let’s celebrate our farmers
We as the public should pause for a minute while complaining about the high price of meat and vegetables, and think what it took to put the food there in the first place: the effort it took to grow it, and the courage and patience needed to carry on farming despite drought, hail and disease. Let’s give a toast to our farmers, who put food on our table not just at Christmas time, but every day of the year.