The National Emergent Redmeat Producers Organisation (NERPO), a leading black farmer’s organisation in South Africa, has applauded the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development message of hope and inspiration to the farming community.
Addressing the African Farmers Association of SA (AFASA), in Bloemfontein recently, Minister Thoko Didiza’s urged all the industry players to actively engage one another in building a vision of united, prosperous agricultural sector in the country.
“In order to achieve that vision, we must acknowledge that we need to broaden agriculture to those who were historically disadvantaged. Build a capable administrative capacity that will give necessary support as well as identifying new opportunities for growth in the sector.
Mr Mahanjana echoes the Minister’s sentiments that institutions that were deliberately created to support black farmers must be strengthened and supported. “Firstly, I fully agree that Agricultural Research Council (ARC) requires appropriate funding if agriculture has to play a dynamic role in economic growth, but also institution like Land Bank cannot continue operating like a commercial bank and it is after all, a heartbeat of agricultural industry. Blended finance as proposed by the department must be implemented without delay.”
“We wish to urge the Minister not to overlook institution like Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP). As a livestock farmer’s organisation, OBP is at the centre of our operation and therefore requires maximum support.”
Mahanjana is equally of the same view, that the future of agriculture depends entirely on how we address the land reform in South Africa, especially against the proposed expropriation of land without compensation. “It requires maturity and consensus seeking solutions and more importantly, parliament must finalise the expropriation bill so that the country can focus on economic growth.”
He further indicated that the Minister was spot on when she said the barrier to entry for historically disadvantaged background are still the same. Transformation is an absolute necessity in the agriculture. “The issue of access to land, water, finance research, technology, infrastructure, mechanisation, agro-logistics and markets were there in 1994 and they are still here with us in the year 2019. Something drastically need to be done. ”
The impact of climate change can also not be ignored. “Drought will not be a phenomenon anymore, but a more everyday thing and we need a clear Disaster management plan that is response to the need of the farmers.”
NERPO is deeply concern about the livestock disease outbreak and welcome the Minister’s support in strengthening biosecurity system so that we can have early warning systems for rapid response.
Mr Mahanjana, further thanked President Ramaphosa for appointing a visionary and grounded Minister, as a welcoming relief. “Minister Didiza has full grasp and understanding of the industry and above all, she is well respected by all the role players, and as a NERPO we are fully behind her. However, in our support to the Minister, we want her to be more clearer about her plans and policy directives towards emerging farmers. There is no alternative to the radical economic transformation in the agriculture and it must happen now,” he concluded.