Throwback Thursday: In the grip of the fiercest drought of the twentieth century

(Adapted from: Time cultivates winners. Senwes – A century of agriculture by Elize van Eeden)

The results also had a ripple effect on the appointment of staff, although key appointments could still be made, most posts had to be frozen. By 1985, Senwes staff had declined by 1488 members to 5343, in comparison to 6831 members in 1982.

In the face of struggle, the Agricultural Development Department had to show its steel. From 1984, an extensive drought relief was launched. Manuals and guidelines for agricultural practices, livestock production and general utilisation of capital in conditions of drought were developed and distributed to farmers. More than ever before, the guidelines were carried into the Senwes operational area, and information actions were synchronised with those of the Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Union and National Maize Producers’ Organisation (NAMPO).

To keep spirits up and appreciate the bigger picture, Senwes’ achievement as recorded in 1984 in comparison to the statistics of the previous decade, still reflected an average growth of 16.7 percent. Despite major setbacks, which included sanctions at National level, the profit margin of Senwes had increased annually to 64,2 million.

By 1992, things were looking up. The Department of Agriculture introduced drought relief packages to aid farmers and agricultural communities. This compelled Senwes to make provision for doubtful debt to clients who had previously been covered by the state guarantee scheme. It was a testing time, but the agricultural sector girded their loins and strategised to pull themselves up, and triumph over tragic circumstance. As it was then, so shall it be again. Together we will overcome!