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On Monday evening, Grain SA unveiled a new logo to reaffirm the organisation’s position as a service provider that is relevant to every type of grain producer.
The new logo includes the mathematical “≥” sign, which symbolises the fact that all grain producers, irrespective of their farming operation’s size, are equally important while they are stronger if they stand united under the Grain SA umbrella.
“Grain SA has always been a dynamic organisation and it is important that we now adapt to changing times in order to remain relevant to all grain producers in South Africa,” said Derek Mathews, chairperson of Grain SA.
Dr Pieter Taljaard, CEO of Grain SA said the organisation’s focus remained the on-farm profitability and sustainability of primary producers, but that it also wants to play a positive role to make the entire grain value chain, and South Africa in general, a thriving industry and country. This was why they decided on the greater but also equal-to symbol. “To focus on the entire value chain is key to our members’ continued success, because the majority of our members are diversified farmers.”
New era farmers
Taljaard said Grain SA specifically wanted to focus on the inclusion of new era farmers, while older more established farmers’ needs should not be neglected.
“While we want to focus on the needs of farmers of colour and those who are just entering the value chain, it is important to realise that certain matters that benefit or harm major commercial farmers, will also benefit smaller growers and therefore it will be beneficial to all of Grain SA’s members.”
Taljaard emphasised that they really wanted to hear from all producers. “If we don’t know and understand what the challenges at ground level is, we won’t be able to address them in an efficient manner. And we can only know about problems if our producer-members talk to us.”
However, due to practical and symbolic reasons it was important to phase in the new logo over time, Taljaard added. “Grain SA isn’t in the marketing game, so we won’t do away with the old logo all at once. After all, the new and old logos aren’t at odds. We want to draw everybody in, and not exclude those who need more time to adapt to the new logo.”
Strong ground structures
Taljaard told Plaas Media that Grain SA’s future focus will partly revolve around the establishment and affirmation of ground level structures. “Due to historical reasons, Grain SA’s ground level communication in the winter rainfall region is much stronger compared to that of the summer rainfall region.”
The reason for this better representation is, among others, the fact that farmers in the winter rainfall region were used to paying statutory commodity levies and consequently there was greater interest in how this funding was being spent.
“Currently there is still a Grain SA representative in every study group or farmers’ union in the region and consequently issues are communicated to us quickly and we’re able to address them as they arise.”
Taljaard said they were currently working on a strategy to create a similar situation in the summer rainfall regions, so as to improve the efficiency of their communication at farm level but also feedback from farmers at ground level in that region.
Embracing new technology
“While Grain SA does communicate to its members on social media and other platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram, the number of groups competing for a producer’s attention does create an overload,” Taljaard said. “On WhatsApp alone, a producer is on family and friend groups, church groups, safety and security groups, and various others. It’s simply too much to take in and therefore we cannot communicate effectively on that platform alone.”
This is why Grain SA has launched its own application. “We are constantly revising the app and finding ways to make it more relevant to our members’ needs,” Taljaard said. “We need to keep in mind that producers have changed a lot. Twenty years ago, a farmer bought all his inputs from and sold his produce to a limited number of input supplying and trading companies. Today a farmer can easily buy inputs from four or five different companies.”
“While it is true that the world has never moved at such a fast pace as the current one, it is also crucial to note that it will never again move as fast as it currently does.” – Susan Marais, Plaas Media