Are We Really Sixteen Hours From Home?

Editor’s Note: Our travels in recent days have taken us to areas where WiFi access didn’t allow for blog updates. Please enjoy the following post recapping our travels on January 9, 2014.

Baie dankie! Ngiyabonga!

Have you ever tried to speak to someone in another language? Perhaps you were speaking with someone who does not know English, or maybe this means you were sharing your passion for agriculture with someone who “doesn’t understand”. No matter the situation, we have all found ourselves frustrated and uncomfortable by the struggle to communicate with others as effectively as we wish.

Thank you. We all just want to take this opportunity to thank you for reading our blog. We share our gratitude in two languages: Afrikaans and Zulu, just two of South Africa’s eleven official languages. Although this country embraces nearly a dozen tribal languages as their own, as we travel across South Africa we are greeted predominantly in English. In fact every local, and agriculturalist we have spoken too speaks our language quite fluently. This, coupled with South Africa’s visibly growing economy and westernized city life has us feel comfortable in a country that is 16 hours from home. Today we find ourselves realizing just how different South Africa can be.

After an early breakfast, we headed to the CSIR International Convention Center, where we were warmly welcomed by Frans Naudé, a representative of the South African Agricultural Department. Dr. Naudé truly enlightened us as he brought to light the immense differences between production in South Africa and yield in America. South Africa contributes 16.4 billion dollars to the nations economy, and remains the leading provider of food security to all of the African continent. Following Naudé’s remarks, we were greeted by two American Embassy representatives: Nicolas Rubios and Corey Pickelsimer. They addressed us as primary customers, and assured us that as American agriculturalists we were the primary concern of the United States Department of Agriculture, but that as representatives in South Africa they were working to ensure that both boats rise and that both countries will continue to play their role in food security.

Following our embassy visit, we traveled to the Beestepan farm, a 42,500 acre family operation. Although large, this operation did not come without the stresses and struggles that many South African farmers seem to be facing due to recent government changes. For example, South African legislation was passed to ban large farm machinery over 10 tons, making 21 of Mr. Pieter Kane-Berman’s tractors illegal to operate on public roads due to the inability to gain licensure for them. He also fears the potential sudden loss of nearly a third of his crop land for these reasons. Upon evening reflection, we find Mr. Kane-Berman a wonderful reminder of the blessing we have to live in a country where we can be more certain of the future of our farming life.

As we closed our day, we were able to admire the breathtaking scenery of the Hannah Lodge, a 20,000 acre private game reserve. We loaded up into open jeeps to take our first safari where we saw zebras, antelope, giraffes, and many other African animals. As we enjoyed a traditional boma meal, an outside circular space, central blazing fire, and local cuisine we felt reassured to our ties to one another’s passion for agriculture and zest for learning. As we watched the sun set on a significant day in South Africa, we ambitiously await the sun to rise on a new day filled with culture, learning, and experiences.

Until next time,

Brett Wasden
Florida FFA
Area VI State Vice President

Heidie Sloot
Minnesota FFA
State Sentinel




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