We are working our way through the chapters of the Agri Handbook, doing a general check on links and updating information. This morning we picked up where we left off yesterday, the “Berries & exotic fruits” chapter.

Subsequent to the 2011 edition we make only the occasional use of the telephone, looking instead for an internet presence to confirm contact details, a role player’s own website being the healthiest verification. Other useful results include social media profiles, Yellow Pages (and other) listings and news articles. 

We got to Mooiberge Farms. The top two results were “Mooiberge, the Farmstall best know for the strawberries and the Legion of Scarecrows deployed in the surrounding strawberry fields” and “For those eager to linger a little longer and return home with more than just lush berries, the much-loved on-site Mooiberge Farm Stall stocks everything from ...” And then, there at third place was “Mooiberge Strawberry farmer killed in robbery”.

No further work was done for several minutes. The loss was almost personal, like someone we had known personally.

There are those who see farm murders as part of an orchestrated campaign, and the gruesome, disproportionate violence meted out in some cases does appear to point to some agenda beyond casual burglaries gone wrong. Others maintain that farm attacks are part of a wider picture of crime; that it is not helpful to make some victims more special than others.

With the average South African farmer being 62-years old, the need to encourage younger blood is obvious. This is a difficult ask when life as a farmer in South Africa is one of the most dangerous professions there is. As sobering as this is the fact that 40% of the working-age population is without any (legal) profession whatsoever, being unemployed or discouraged job seekers.

The country as a whole faces some major challenges, but until we realise that we are all in this together we will not make any progress that is real.