Farmers’ Kraal with Charles Tjatindi – Learn, unlearn and relearn

Home Agriculture Farmers’ Kraal with Charles Tjatindi – Learn, unlearn and relearn

Aristotle, a towering figure in ancient Greek philosophy who made important contributions to logic, criticism, rhetoric and psychology among others famously wrote “The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know.” This can not be more true than when applied to the modern world, or in this case farming.

One of the farmers’ greatest mistakes is assuming that methods and farming techniques that worked in 1200 BC would still be relevant today. As the world changes, farmers need to adapt to new ways of doing things and equally adopt fresh approaches to their farming enterprises if they are to stand any chance of survival. 

The invention of today’s rubber wheels or tyres is a long way from the stone and eventual steel round objects people used for wheels in ancient times. So, change is inevitable and much needed. It is not a leisure choice, it’s a hard, critical decision that needs to be pondered on carefully as it could mean the difference between success and failure.

The modern farmer has become comfortable in his own skin – too comfortable for his own liking. So comfortable that it has become uncomfortable for him to learn new things and try out new approaches. Choosing between sticking to what you know best and taking in new skills and knowledge could be the feather that breaks the camel’s back!

My take has always been to fuse the two together; retain some ‘old’ methods that are still practical to modern times, but also be open to learn and relearn techniques and approaches that were birthed ‘after your time’. You have nothing to lose in gaining more knowledge, and most of the time it is free – such as the unconventional ‘wisdom’ I am desperately attempting to impart through this column week in, week out.

Read up as much as you can on farming ventures or principles you are attempting to venture into. Listen to conversations on your type of farming activities – even if you are not formally invited into the conversation. You won’t be eavesdropping; no such thing exists in farming circles. Most farmers are open minded people who share openly on new methods they have tried out and their results.

Be inquisitive; ask relevant questions that could help you improve on your farming venture. Stop attempting to sound educated and knowledgeable if you really have no intensive knowledge on the subject at hand; that trick is as old as the sun. It’s like attempting to sell ice to an Eskimo!

Most importantly, learn to discern the knowledge you have gained. How relevant to your situation is everything you have been told and read about? Is the advice practical enough to be applied to me? Is the setting (geographical, climatic and political) the same as mine? Giving legitimate answers to these questions will help you in your quest to come up with a complete picture on how to apply the newly acquired knowledge to your farming enterprise.

Also, read up on possible lessons learned by others in the implementation of these new methods and techniques. This will help you to avoid those minefields when you take new approaches to your farm. The United States’ longest serving First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt who was a pacifist and activist in her own right once remarked “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Aptly put, as is the case in farming.