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2017 RAS of the Commonwealth Mission to South Africa

Posted on : 03 November 2017

Tim Eyes, one of our 2015 Rural Achievers, was lucky enough to be selected to attend the Mission to Cape Town, South Africa in September. Read about his experience...

"The 2017 learning and understanding mission to South Africa would have to be one of the most humbling and thought provoking overseas trip I have ever ventured on. I now have a language warning for this article. I will use language used in South Africa to describe people; blacks, whites and colours. Terms still used everyday to describe members of society which are truly foreign to me.

Our trip consisted of delegates from all over the commonwealth, including delegates from PNG, Malawi, Zambia, Scotland, Wales, Singapore, England and South Africa.

A special day during the trip for me was meeting Uncle Henky who was a black farmer and didn't own a car and had not been to Clan William; the local town for 2 years.

Uncle Henkey and other members of this community use mules and donkeys on a concrete pad to trample oaten hay to separate the outs out of the hay. A process that could take up to a day and although this was a great exhibition the question was asked how much oats were from a store?

The equivalent of 10 dollars cheaper then just buying the hay.

The economics were simple but the logic was challenging. Being a three-hour mule ride from the local produce store was defiantly a limiting factor and the dual purpose of the oaten hay also made sense to feed the mules. But I could not help but feel a hamster wheel effect was in motion as you use the mules to plough the land to sow the crop to feed the mules to plough the land and so on.

On the other side of the coin we visited commercial farmers who were predominately white. They had stock on rotational grazing systems under a centre pivot, with Stud cattle that could rival any animal for the Urqhart at Sydney Royal.

The 2017 RASC mission to south Africa will be with me forever.

I'm currently exploring a green tea venture to make use of marginal land from the rooibos tea inspiration I gained.

I look forward to sharing my new found knowledge and I thank the RAS for being such a wonderful supporter of young people."