AgriSA’s summit sends a positive signal to SA land debate

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The Landbouweekblad/AgriSA land summit in Bela Bela has created a lot of positivity and will hopefully send a positive signal to the country about the land debate.

The two-day summit explored different ways, which commercial farmers can use to help farm workers to be involved in farming, or how they can become commercial farmers.

Some farmers have built schools, while other organisations place young farmers with mentors. Challenges of emerging farmers have also been explored.

AgriSA‘s spokesperson on Land, Annelize Crosby says the summit seems to be a turning point in the current land debate in South Africa.

“There’s a lot or positivity emanating from the summit and also I think a lot of networking took place and a lot of relationships were built. So we’re hoping it will send a positive signal to our members and into the sector.”

Crosby says the willingness of commercial farmers to help emerging farmers was a golden thread weaving through the summit.

“There were a number of themes, but I think the main one for me was how many farmers have actually tackled this very difficult issue and just felt it was the right thing to do to get involved in their communities, emerging black farmers and with farm workers. And despite so many obstacles that were placed in their way and so many frustrations, they actually achieved wonders and made a big difference in their communities in their area.”

She adds that if commercial farmers had the support of government for the projects they launched, the impact would have been much bigger.

Deputy President David Mabuza opened the Landbou Weekblad/Agri SA summit on land at Bela-Bela in Limpopo. (Pic: SAgovnews)

Emerging black commercial farmers also complained about the lack of government support. Whiskey Kgabo’s first farm was part of a land claim. He was only compensated years later for much less than the farm was worth and was given a part of a cluster farm.

“They must come in with funds, plus I’m appealing to the department because the department is now the father of agriculture. They must see that they fund us to do all those but they say we are lazy we are not working, I’m not lazy to work. They must give us title deeds. The title deed is the solution to all of this.”

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries DG, Mike Mlangane, attended the summit today. He says government has the programs, but seemingly implementation is the problem.

“With specific reference to the issues I heard, we are going to sit a group of people to go and investigate that. You will allow us to formulate strategic implementation plans that will align themselves to our programs and then evaluate the process of implementation. That’s where the problem is. The money arrives to who? And how does it get utilised? I need to close that gap, that’s where the gap is.”

Another emerging cattle farmer, Mninawa Hargreaves Qotoyi, says he approached the private sector for funding because he doesn’t trust government.

“The trust comes from, sometimes the government takes a long time when the property owner wants to sell at a certain time and doesn’t want to wait for the processes of government.”

He says black emerging farmers failed the government just as much as the government failed them.

“If you are given government funding to assist in your farming venture, you have to respect that fund because it comes from the tax payers and you must make good use of it. It is sad for those who could not use that opportunity worth while.”

He says farming is a lonely business that is not easy. He adds that if you don’t have the passion you will not succeed.