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  • 16 May 2023
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This year’s Nation in Conversation’s theme, adapt or die, focuses on issues that revolve around a new kind of mindset to change the status quo in order to survive. This discussion focused on the impact of climate change and how farmers should adapt to this.

Janse Rabie, member of the Presidential Climate Commission, said that government sees climate change as a reality, but that the connection between water, food and energy should be addressed with more urgency.

Van der Burgh admitted that climate change is a vast topic. “If it is tied back to agriculture, it comes back to the market. If there is no market, there is no means of existence. Farmers have been mitigating climate changes for the past 150 years. The question is how to measure it.”

Jacques van Rensburg from the WWF said that agriculture needs ecosystem services. “The green revolution asks for some changes, e.g., healthier soil. Mitigation is an integrated approach, not only a farm-level approach, but also a landscape-level approach.”

Speaking from a farmer’s experience, Derek Mathews said that farmers understand the importance of healthy soil. “The changing of climate has been a reality forever - it is not a new thing, and not a threat.”

Slabbert shared how he made the decision to adapt and that they can already see wonderful changes on their farm. “You can find earthworms everywhere on the farm, which tells you the soil is healthy. That happened after a mindset adaption. We try to do less harm to the soil. We will always have droughts, winds and heat. We as farmers have the responsibility to adapt, because nature can never be wrong. To see changes in nature is not money in the bank, but it is passion-driven and that is what we want to achieve.”

Van Rensburg explained that farming more climate-oriented is not an easy transition. “From an ecological point of view it is critical for us to conserve our biodiversity and it is critical for us to conserve our ecosystem services. The only way to adapt farming systems is to have resilient farming systems. The only way to have resilient farming systems is to promote healthy soils and biodiversity. Some chemicals that are used in South Africa are not permitted in other countries. When these chemicals are phased out, South African farmers need to be ready for that and adapt.”

Climate change and the reality thereof in all sectors is a point of discussion far from resolved. In South Africa especially it still needs a lot of research when it comes to farming where the answer between saving the planet and surviving is still a huge issue.

Watch this discussion here if you missed it. Book your seat for upcoming Nation in Conversation sessions here.


Issued by Nation in Conversation: 16 May 2023

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