It is true that all around the world, the farming population is ageing. I recently read that the average age of a farmer in Africa is 62 years old.
In a world where food insecurity levels are steadily increasing, this statistic should be a cause for concern. We need to be asking questions beyond current debates about land ownership or access to land such as: Where are the young farmers?
Namibia faces challenges with the growing population, rapid urbanisation and climate change. Who is being educated to become future farmers? Who will take care of the soils and the natural resources at our disposal for the sake of the future? Where are the young scientists and agronomists who will lead the way in research and development and in advancing agricultural
If you are a farmer, there is no such thing as working from 09h00 to 17h00. You are always ‘on standby’. If a cow goes into labour in the midnight hours, you monitor her throughout the calving process. If the rains are late, you work in the fields from before dawn until long after dark to get the fields prepared, the seeds into the soil and the weeds sprayed.
Sadly, too many people have lost touch with this way of life to know what a beautiful thing it can be to work as a family with the rhythms of nature. Are we doing enough to encourage the next generation about the importance of farming as a career and lifestyle?
It is true farmers do work very hard and keep long hours in order to be successful…but that is only one aspect of a multi-faceted career. Farmers lead a life of significance and purpose – after all, the work of farmers is necessary for human survival!
Farmers are highly motivated and capable, multi-talented individuals who balance their chores from the field to the farm office to the agri-business environment with skills. They should be respected as professionals whose work is highly significant.
There are some basic characteristics that farmers need to have in order to make farming efforts successful:
Most farmers are driven by their love for what they do – most of them can’t imagine a life worthwhile doing anything else. It is this passion, which gives farmers the strength to stand up and start again after a time of failure or disappointment. Passionate farmers who breathe farming in every pore of their being run successful farms!
Pursuit of knowledge
To be successful, a farmer must know a great deal about his land and the products he plans to raise. Farming is not a stagnant environment. There are always new developments, farming methods, technologies to discover and learn about. A good farmer is a perpetual student who reads and talks to experts to soak up as much information as possible.
Problem solving skills
Nobody ever said that farming was an easy career choice. A farmer often faces challenges and crisis situations, which require some quick thinking and creative solutions. Farmers are proactive in their response to problems – there is even a slogan ’n boer maak ’n plan. Therefore, farmers need the courage to stare problems in the face, find solutions, and have become known for their innovative thinking. This characteristic sets farmers apart from others who need a computer or a manual with a clear set of instructions!
Possibly the most essential characteristic of a farmer is having a never-give-up attitude. This is the mark of a successful farmer who will stay in the game for the long run. Patience, perseverance and passion make it possible to push through the challenges and failures.