But if the Hollard-sponsored Youth Show at the recent Heidelberg Show is anything to go by, agriculture will be in great hands in the years to come.
Scores of children of all ages, most of them from leading agricultural schools, participated enthusiastically in the youth show on Saturday, showing a wide variety of animals including wool sheep, dairy and beef cattle, dairy goats, boerbokke, angoras and horses.
At stake for many of them was being able to qualify for the Western Province Championships, which take place in March. So, under a blazing sun, the competition was equally fiery, says Hollardite Suzanne Heyns, who attended the show.
“It was very dusty and extremely hot,” says Heyns. “It was quite a thing to see a five-year-old girl wiping the knees of her huge Charolais bull with a cloth, to make sure that its sweating didn’t discolour its coat.”
That girl, incidentally, fearlessly led the bull past the judges in the beef cattle section – and won.
“When she won,” says Heyns, “she gave the bull a kiss – and it positively shivered with pleasure!”
What was clear from this experience and others, she continues, was that the children are old hands at the agricultural show game: “You could see that most of these kids have been doing it for a long time already.”
For the head of Hollard Insure’s Agriculture Centre of Excellence, Andries Wiese, Hollard’s sponsorship of the youth show makes a lot of sense.
“These children, quite literally, are vital to the future of South Africa. Without a vibrant and successful agricultural sector, our country will struggle with maintaining food security and creating jobs throughout the food value chain, and we will lose out on a great deal of foreign exchange earnings,” says Wiese.
“But while it certainly makes commercial sense for Hollard to associate itself with them and grow its brand in the context of South African agriculture, our support for the youth show goes far beyond that.
“Hollard’s business purpose is encapsulated in its Better Futures campaign, which holds that everything we do and the way we do it must create and secure a better future for people. By stimulating youth participation in agriculture, we’re doing precisely that – both for these impressive young farmers of the future, and for all of us,” says Wiese.