Farmer Focus: Climate protestors need not worry about hunger

It is spring in South Africa, but the countryside looks more like winter. I live in the summer-rainfall area, but the rains haven’t come yet.

The past five years have been very dry, living from hand to mouth in the rain department. I really hope this season is different, with good rain “like it should be”.

This got me thinking about how resilient farmers are, despite the weather, politics, poor prices and, of course, my favourite – climate change.

See also: How healthy soils halved fuel bill on Shropshire farm

Climate change seems to be one of the main concerns of the developed world where “will I eat tonight?” is not even a thought for the vast majority, let alone a concern.

Most of those who protest are happy to partake in all the lavishness of a modern lifestyle, but no, they are not the problem – the problem is agriculture.

People are literally gluing their hands to a lamppost where, not long ago, their ancestors had their hands glued to a hoe.

A different world

Here in Africa, many small-scale farmers still cultivate their crops by hand.

The whole family spends days in the hot sun hoeing out weeds, with the next flush germinating in that freshly turned earth behind them.

Before the Second World War there wasn’t fertiliser, so the only way to improve your soil fertility was to haul in manure from your cow or grow a legume to fix atmospheric nitrogen.

Crop genetics was in its infancy, so yields were pathetic.

That evil ag-chem industry did not exist, so your hoe was your weedicide and you were at the mercy of every pest or plague. There was no time to protest your prosperity.

I always encourage my city friends to grow their own veggies, especially those who complain about the quality of food. That way they quickly learn how hard it is.

Most of them never harvest one crop, let alone feed the family.

As farmers, we must be responsible with our resources. We must guard against soil erosion and not pollute the environment.

Most of all, we must keep doing what we do best – feed the world.

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