Brandon Klippies Smit grew up on a wheat farm a few kilometeres outside Porterville in the Western Cape. Here his love for agriculture was ignited. Now he is working for Kaap Agri as a junior silo manager at their Wesgraan silo in Eendekuil on the West Coast.
Smit manages the silo’s day-to-day operations. This includes receiving and despatching grain, grading and fumigation, stock management as well as doing security and maintenance inspections.
To excel in this job you must be willing to learn from others, be patient and committed, says Smit. Having been born and raised on a farm is a blessing for Smit. “My parents work on a farm and people tend to be very judgemental when it comes to people living and working on farms. For me it is a blessing. You get to work with and for nature. The best part is realising that you are dependent on nature and not the other way around.”
If the story of Smit’s career inspires you then scroll down to find out how you can get started along this path. Over the next few weeks we will feature many more careers to choose from in the agri sector on Food for Mzansi and 19 radio stations all over the country.
Now over to Brandon Klippies Smit, junior silo manager at Wesgraan silo in Eendekuil. He will tell you why you should choose a career in agriculture…
Could you sum up your job for us?
I manage the storage of grain in silos which include quality control and risk management. I’m based at the Wesgraan silo in Eendekuil.
So, what does the day-to-day of your job entail?
I’m involved in the day-to-day operations of the silo. This includes receiving and despatching, the grading and fumigation of grain products, stock management as well as doing security and maintenance inspections.
My day starts off with a short Bible session. Then I inspect the site to make sure everything is in order. Every day is different. There is little routine and this is one of the main reasons I love and adore my work. As we work with agricultural products, my daily schedule is dependent on the seasons and time of year. During harvest time we are at our busiest with sampling, grading and offloading of grain from farmers.
After harvest time, the silo needs to store the grain, maintain it at a good quality and free of any pests. For that we fumigate the grain (the risk management part of my job). When the grain is ready and according to the required specification, we despatch the grain to the mills or owners of the grain.
What qualification do you need for this career?
You need at least Grade 12. You also need industry-related qualifications such as grain quality control to do tasks like grain grading and risk management to do grain fumigation. At my level you need at least five years’ experience in grain grading and storage management.
What are the character traits you need to be great at your job?
Personally I think if you want to be the best at what you do and to excel, you must be willing to learn from others, be patient and committed. Always have a smile on your face. Our company, Kaap Agri, has a focus on accelerating performance which also highlights how important it is to be open-minded, to think ahead and to learn and adapt as your work environment changes.
What subjects do I need to become a silo manager?
A silo is a business, so you need to be cost and efficiency focused. Accounting and mathematics are recommended.
What do you love about agriculture as a space to work in?
I was raised on a farm. My parents work on a farm and people tend to be very judgemental when it comes to people living and working on farms. I see it as a blessing. You get to work with and for nature. Seeing the green pastures and having the the privilege to see how seeds, plants and animals grow.
The best part is that you are dependent on nature and not the other way around. The fact that not everything is in your hands, but in the hands of the Almighty. That is the main reason why I love my work. I just to go onto my knees and to pray for our farmers. To pray for rain. To pray for life. My work brings me closer to God. I see agriculture as my calling!
Don’t be modest, tell us about your proudest career moments?
My proudest career moment was last year with harvest intake. It was my first harvest intake. I managed to keep everything under control and the farmers were very understanding. The hope is that this year it will be the same and even better. Every day at work is special to me, to learn and to overcome new challenges. I am committed and enjoy my work and workspace. There is still a lot of learning too and I think I did a good job for my first season.
I also appreciate that our company has a culture of care. One of the values is alignment, which can be explained as “if one wins, we all win”. Managing a silo is about team work and it’s very important to see yourself as part of a team and to understand how your work and achievements lead to the success of the bigger team.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I am a huge rugby fan. So it is usually watching the game at home. But most of my time I visit my parents and grandparents on the farm. Like I have said earlier, it is a privilege to be in the presence of nature. I also spend a lot of time with my fiancée, Fabiola Lewies. She is my biggest support system and the most valuable gift I can give her is my time.
Any advice for young people who are inspired by your career story here on AgriSETA Learner Connect?
Never stop dreaming. No dream shall be too small or too farfetched. To dream gives you hope. To hope, keeps you alive. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are never too old to learn new ways and new techniques. The most important advice I can give is to never let your circumstances make you who you are. Never use it as an excuse, rather use it to elevate you to the top. If there’s a will, there SHALL be a way. And remember, the heaviest burdens that we carry… are the thoughts in our head!
Where can I study to become an agricultural silo manager?
A grain depot manager qualification and grain grader course is available at AgriSETA. Grain quality and risk management qualifications are provided by specific service providers in the grain industry.