Day two of our tours in South Africa had us up early again at 5:30 a.m. and after a quick breakfast, we ventured off to our first stop: Senwes GrainLink. While many of you reading this back home have sponsored the FFA and this International Leadership Seminar for State Officers, we had the opportunity to visit this partner of one of our key sponsors, Bunge North America. Senwes is a national leader in producing efficient seeds and grain, while providing support for farmers in South Africa through Agri-insurance, farm equipment and maintenance, as well as feed for livestock. Their GrainLink operations is a 50/50 joint venture with Bunge. Senwes was established in 1910 and 104 years later, we were able to see their growth modeled through their motto; “Breaking New Ground.”
We were divided into 3 groups that traveled to a local cattle operation, a grain silo facility, and their farm equipment maintenance and supply store. At Whitfield Bonsmaras cattle operation, we learned about large scale cattle production in South Africa. The breed itself is very noteworthy; founded in the early 1900s, it is a combination of Shorthorn, Hereford, and Afrikana cattle breeds. On about 4,000 acres, Whitfield produces 40 high performance bulls, and 100 high capacity females for an annual private sale. Owner Ashley Whitfield, opened our eyes to a new perspective of South African agriculture as a fourth generation farmer.
From there, our tour took us to one of the 69 Senwes GrainLink Silo Campuses. With 24 grain silos that are able to accommodate 4.2 million bushels of grain each, these facilities are leading South Africa in grain drying and storage. Grain is brought here from all across the Free State Province and is then sorted, cleaned, weighed, dried and stored. We were able to strap on a hard hat and go up to the top of one of the nine-story silos and see the breathtaking landscape of corn and cattle for miles. While at the campus, we learned a little of the native Afrikaans language. It was amazing to see the returns of investing time and interest in learning about our cultural similarities and differences.
Our last stop on this amazing day of tours went to the Senwes farm equipment maintenance and supply store. We enjoyed some traditional braai, or what we would consider BBQ, served to us from the friendly staff. When we visited the store, many of the state officers were able to converse about hunting, mechanics, and John Deere. We toured the store and experienced management from the inside-out. The feed store and maintenance department is a place where farmers can come and collect essential supplies for their farm equipment, fields, and their livestock. The connection between the farmer, his farm equipment supplier, and the company Senwes was prevalent through out the entire day. We have learned more about the South African perception of our beloved American agriculture and have expanded our horizons thanks to the innovative agriculture and diligent farmers here in the beautiful country.
Washington FFA State President
Florida FFA State Secretary
Jake Titus Ledoux
New York FFA State Vice-President