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The dark clouds of policy uncertainty and climate change are not  the kind that put a smile on the faces of farmers. However, some silver linings are worth highlighting. While going through my old photos recently, one shot four years ago caught my attention. In it, I was posing with the then vice-chairman of Grain SA, Victor Mongoato, looking over the maize fields on the outskirts of Matatiele in the Eastern Cape. I had been on a visit to a group of thriving black farmers. Back then, black farmers in the area were producing 6,000 tonnes of maize on roughly 1,200ha and they had just started training with an organised agriculture group. By the 2016-17 production season, the area planted to maize had increased to 4,000ha and the harvest was 28,000 tonnes, according to data from Matatiele Grainco. These numbers show that the improvement in production was not only because of an increase in the area planted but also better farming practices as the yields improved from an average of 5 tonn...

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