“It was truly a privilege and a blessing from day one to be in agriculture,” says Chrisna Heuer, marketing manager in South Africa for Yara Africa Fertilizer (Pty) Ltd, an international plant nutrition company.
“I always say I had to learn to be patient, and that’s why I ended up in the agricultural sector. You don’t plant a seed today and eat the fruit tomorrow; you have to wait patiently, faithfully give it water and nutrients and watch it grow slowly. Sometimes there is a lot to endure until the plant is ready and ripe to be picked and enjoyed.”
Chrisna grew up on a farm in the Eastern Free State with her six sisters. “I associate farm life with my grandmother’s coal stove full of rusks and granddad talking about the fields late in the afternoon. I think of the noisy milking machine and the call of guinea fowl,” she remembers her childhood. Nowadays, the lives in the Cape.
During her school years, she worked at the grain silo and learned to grade grain from her father. “After school, the ARC Small Grain Institute in Bethlehem offered me a position as a research assistant. While I was in their service, I completed my honours studies at the University of the Free State.
“Thereafter, I collected and coordinated business intelligence for remote sensing product development on behalf of an international company. Its aim was to make a difference in the agricultural sector at ground level by promoting the development of various crops. As an agronomist, I had the privilege of limiting the risk of remote sensing of crops at ground level.
“When I look back on my career in the agricultural industry, the first thing that comes to mind is where it all started, as a little girl with my father on the farm in the Eastern Free State; the opportunities that went along with it and how the fields, sunrise and the smell of cultivated fields make me feel closer to my Creator.”
Chrisna came across the advertisement for the position of marketing manager at Yara during 2017. She immediately applied for it and hasn’t looked back since! She has been working at Yara Africa Fertilizer since 2018. “It was just the right time, the right place and the right opportunity – for me and for Yara,” she says.
In her opinion, Yara is doing a lot of effort to give women in agriculture an opportunity for promotion and to be heard.
Agriculture needs women because there are many dimensions that come with being a woman. “For me, the many dimensions of being human are summed up in the wonder of being a woman. We dry tears while laughing, we are gentle yet firm,” explains Chrisna.
She is grateful that women in agriculture can be used as examples of people who do what they love and live life to the fullest. “Farming offers me the opportunity to live an extraordinary life. It keeps my cup full.”
Chrisna feels inspired daily by her Creator and the people that He has brought across her path, such as Danie Bruwer from Knersvlakte. “He is a mentor in all respects of the Word, and then of course the management at Yara, who is an example in everything – in values, humanity, business, faith and human relations,” she adds.
What Chrisna enjoys most about agriculture is the attitude that people in the industry have towards each other. “When you arrive at a farmer’s association, there is someone you’ve met before at a previous occasion,” she laughs. “The same with symposiums, fairs, farmers’ days, the whole industry; you have friends everywhere.”
About her own future, she only says: ‘Watch this space’, but she would like to help others to live out their dreams. However, according to her definition, success is not a destination, it is part of the journey. If you find peace in that, you will have an extraordinary life!
“I would like to encourage other women in agriculture to never stop dreaming. Also, don’t give up on your womanhood – it’s precious, you’re precious. Just always do your best,” she concludes.