Judicious water use needed in SA – top young farmer
Resource conservation, especially judicious water use, needs to become a crucial priority in South Africa, according to JP van den Berg, the 2018 Agri SA/Toyota Young Farmer of the Year. As South Africa was a water-scarce country, it was every citizen’s responsibility to save water accordingly, he said.
Van den Berg, a seed potato producer near Tosca in North West, aimed to reduce his own water use by limiting the number of irrigated hectares he had under production, despite him having enough water to significantly expand irrigated production.
“Water is our lifeline. It would be foolish to chase profits at all costs and in the process destroy this valuable, Godgiven resource. Water gives life to everything,” he said.
Van den Berg also strongly advocated for people to adhere to the requirements pertaining to irrigation and water usage as set out by South African legislation to ensure long-term, sustainable crop production.
He added that farming for financial gain only did not make sense.
His farming business’s mission was thus the optimal production of top-quality products through the sustainable use of resources.
Van den Berg explained that his main focus was on quality, and not on quantity. He added that there was a marked difference between ‘maximum’ production and ‘optimum’ production.
“‘Optimum’ production refers to the best possible outcome using available resources such as soil, water and labour in a sustainable manner. [‘Maximum’ production refers to] output without any consideration for the sustainability of resources.”
He explained that careful planning, research and choosing the right crop, as well as an emphasis on social responsibility, would become increasingly important in the future.
“I appreciate the value of technology, but would not consider employing it should it impact negatively on social responsibility, namely the provision of jobs. Technology and its use must create and not destroy jobs.
“The secrets to success are preparation, hard work and respect for people,”
Van den Berg added.
He also focused on showing respect for, and clearly communicating with, every role player in the value chain. – Annelie Coleman
JP Van den Berg