I’m a late adopter of Instagram. I’d been advised to join by my millennial counterparts working in food and agriculture but getting accepted to VALOR was what made me add yet another social media platform.
Fast forward almost two years, and I’m up to 45 Instagram posts for our international trip to South Africa alone. Some of the posts are short – as they should be for Instagram – but others are not. Many include multiple pictures and a paragraph of text; chronicling every farm visit and a lesson or highlight from each. (The word “obsessive” comes to mind.)
One of the best pictures I took in South Africa. Here’s Class III following Steyn Prinsloo to a spot on his farm where we could see almost all of his commercial crops under production: macadamia nuts, ginger, bananas, and avocados,
I can’t yet succinctly describe this once in a lifetime opportunity while portraying the range of complex issues we observed – some very inspiring and thought-provoking, many quite concerning. Some are related to the challenges of farming in a global marketplace, to natural resource limitations, to the enduring legacy of Apartheid, to the lack of public investment in research and technical assistance…Nevertheless, we met a host of innovative, energetic, and successful farm business owners, some with a community leadership commitment that was evident immediately.
I will continue to try to package this unique, rare experience into a brief summary. In the meantime, if you’re interested in what we saw on our trip, consider spending a few minutes looking at the images I’ve shared or that my colleagues have. We’d love to know what questions or thoughts about South Africa’s agricultural industry or society they evoke for you.