There is a well-known Afrikaans saying among farming folk: ’n boer maak ’n plan. It is not easily translated, but it basically means a farmer makes a plan. And it certainly is no secret that Mzansi’s farmers are solutions driven.
Take Dr Johnny van der Merwe, an agricultural economist at the North-West University in Potchefstroom, for example. His academic world is far removed from broadcasting, but when he realised the need for weekly market analysis that could help farmers, he simply made a plan.
Whether his wife, Marné, approves, is a different question, but Van der Merwe turned a bedroom into a home recording studio – even with a green screen which makes it easier to replace the background during the editing process.
“I didn’t have a big budget,” laughs Van der Merwe (35), a senior lecturer in agricultural economics. “My motto has always been that if you add value to anything, the benefits will come your way. So, I started recording the weekly agricultural price trends on my phone. It improved week after week as we were learning new techniques that made the recording process so much easier.”
The rest is history, and today Van der Merwe joins #TeamFoodForMzansi as a weekly contributor to the popular Farmer’s Inside Track podcast. Besides his YouTube videos, farmers can now also get the very latest AMT Market Fresh Produce Outlook on the podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Every week, he will discuss the latest price movements in the fruit and vegetable markets, as well as his expectations for the coming week.
“I really make great efforts to put it all together. For the latest price trends, I have to call many, many people every week to get a sense of what’s happening in the market. This is then analysed using other research and ultimately presented as digestible content that can add value to the country’s farmers,” he says.
It is no secret that Van der Merwe loves agriculture. He was born on a sheep farm close to Fauresmith, 130km south-west of Bloemfontein in the Free State. He says, “This is where I find peace, but more importantly, it helps me understand the dynamics of the agricultural sector. I understand the people. I understand the culture. How they operate. This made it easier to find my space in an industry that is big on loyalty and ethical values. This is how I aspire my live my life too.”
Other highlights in the latest podcast episode
The latest Farmer’s Inside Track podcast episode also boasts many other exciting features, says Food For Mzansi’s editor, Dawn Noemdoe, who presents the show with Duncan Masiwa. Noluthando Ngcakani gets up, close and personal with permaculturist Ludwe Majiza who left his city job as an IT specialist to move back to farm back home in the Eastern Cape village of Mkhubiso.
In the entrepreneurship slot, chief agricultural economist at the National Agricultural Marketing Council, Dr Sifiso Ntombela, explains exactly what lockdown level 3 means for farmers. KwaZulu-Natal farm manager and co-founder of the Bee Academy, Mbali Ngcobo speaks about her journey in the agricultural sector. This week farmers have selected “Working through the barriers to success” by author Sibusiso Molimi as their book of the week.