As agriculturalists, we all surely have one thing in common, a love for the land and the crops we grow. Therefore, the name of the industry’s new transformation publication is so apt –New Roots symbolising a connection between the various aspects of life through deeply rooted pillars of strength and stability that can weather many storms and natural disasters. Synonymous with growth and development within the agricultural environment we find ourselves in.
It’s been a tough couple of years for our growers and the industry with unprecedented increases in input costs, exacerbated by the energy crisis and the severe impact of loadshedding on crop volumes and quality, logistical challenges in getting the product to the market whilst maintaining good eating quality. The impact of Covid-19 coupled with the Russian-Ukraine war and subsequent impact on the export and local market, both in terms of demand and market realisation. Unfavourable weather conditions (hail) in both the Ceres and Langkloof production regions during the 2023 harvest affected many growers – an environmental storm in itself. Leaving no one unscathed and scarred even more so our first-generation growers who hardly have any margin for error. However, I have learnt that tough times never last, but tough people do and tough times force people into making innovative plans.
That is why we are returning to our roots! Go back to the drawing board, reposition, and review developmental plans, and back to the basics to facilitate and enable stability for our first-generation growers through targeted, needs-driven and innovative interventions with Hortgro’s newly formed Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC).
Development is not an event but a process and during times of rapid change, it requires agility in adapting to the changing environment. Industry efforts and interventions will prioritize the safeguarding of investments made over the last decade and build on the successes achieved. Making sure we create and facilitate a conducive environment for all to be able to meaningfully transform our industry in a sustainable manner. This cannot be achieved in isolation and will require partnerships from both the public and private sectors. From the industry’s side, we are excited about the future – we have been busy with the right things and sometimes taking a step back and regrouping is not always a bad thing. As the saying goes “’n boer maak ’n plan” and sometimes when plan A does not work out, we then try another plan, but collectively we will succeed.
I would like to end off with: “A tree’s beauty lies in its branches, but its strength lies in its roots.” – Matshona Dhliwayo
Group Operations Manager: Hortgro