WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Farming is a business, and one needs to treat it as such. Count every rand coming in and going out. Also, the best fertiliser is the farmer’s own footsteps – always be present in your business.
IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU COULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY, WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN?
I wish I had been involved in the education and training of farmers way before because I think I could have made an impact on land reform beneficiaries and reduced, even in a small way, the number of failed land reform farms.
WHO HAS MADE THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTION TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I would credit Senwes and Grain SA, and many people in those organisations, with my success. I learned many lessons from these organisations which I’m practising today.
WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP DO YOU HAVE WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURING FARMERS AND WHAT ROLE HAVE THEY PLAYED IN YOUR SUCCESS?
As a farmer, you are not going to make it without good relationships with your neighbours. I have the best relationships with all my neighbours, most of whom are white farmers.
WAS IT A STRUGGLE TO GET FINANCING AND WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ANYONE LOOKING FOR MONEY?
It was very hard to get finance. My advice is that farmers should take advantage of the many opportunities that government offers in the form of the various grants available. But also ensure that you have proper records, and your books should be up to date. Your beautiful crops or animals are not going to get you the finance you need, but your books and your track record are.
WHAT ROLE HAVE INPUT SUPPLIERS, LIKE ANIMAL HEALTH COMPANIES PLAYED IN THE BUSINESS?
They are like partners in the business. An operation like this cannot function without input suppliers being part of it. They know their products better than I do and involving them in any decision is a no-brainer.
IF THERE WAS A SINGLE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
The minister must find ways to protect the farmers. We are faced with very high input costs, and some are not justifiable. The country cannot afford to have high food prices, especially with the number of poor households we have. There must be some sort of protection for farmers whether through subsidies or regulations.