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Half a century’s worth of wisdom

Naas van der Merwe has been involved in primary agriculture for 50 odd years and has seen and experienced a lot. Today he is chairman of the Ceres Business Initiative and the kingpin of the well-known Môrester Boerdery in the Koue Bokkeveld. He is grateful for his past, but focused toward the future of agriculture. At the end of yet another eventful and exceptional year, Naas shares some of his magic.

A family business in primary agriculture isn’t an easy life. Certainly not if you add all the current challenges we face nowadays. But the opposite is also true. You’ll battle to find better opportunities where all population groups in South Africa can build together on the same future than in primary agriculture. Allow me to share some lessons with the new generation of today:

  1. Never loose hope and create inspiration in everything you do. In this game, you begin every year anew.
  2. Leaders must give direction and must use challenges as opportunities. Cleary stipulated expectations, ambitions and end results need to be set.
  3. Celebrate every success with everybody. We do not only share in the challenges, but also the joys. Otherwise believability and positivity go out the window.
  4. Leaders do not get respect for nothing. You get it by creating trust and integrity in everything you do. But you can loose it with one ill-judged word or deed.
  5. A serving leader will have a positive effect on his people, especially if he or she also looks after them outside work circumstances. The proverbial second mile that you walk with someone often is the difference between success and joy, or failure and despondency.
  6. Make use of external experts to maintain a healthy corporate governance. It’s a great investment in sustainable success.

After many decades in the Witzenberg I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had so far to help make it a better place for all our people. Many a success story can be told about Witzenberg, especially the PALS initiative that originated here, but which is now spreading all over South Africa, helping to create wonderful opportunities for all South Africans. We must celebrate these successes by living and letting live, by empowering people and by being exceptional custodians looking after the land for future generations.

Hamba kahle.



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