Funding for communal farmers continues to be a point of contention, especially for those farming on state land. Members of the Dwaalkraal Cooperative in the North West have been farming for a decade, but finances are still a concern.
Cooperative Chaairperson, Olman Mpomelwa, says they are currently farming on credit.
“We have been farming for 10 years. Our challenge is funds; we don’t have money to farm. Farming is what we do best. At the moment we, are farming on credit. We are in debt and we don’t know how we’ll pay it back.”
Mponelwa says late planting due to heavy downpours meant a loss to farmers.
“Recent heavy downpours damaged our sunflower so we’ll have to re-plant it. I don’t know where we’ll get the money.”
Mpomelwa is one of many small scale farmers who love to farm, but their passion is curbed by a lack of funds mainly because they don’t have collateral.
Willem de Chavonnes Vrught from Agri North West says they want small farmers to be empowered by receiving property rights from government.
“Small farmers will probably never get access to commercial funding if they don’t have security of tenure or registered property rights. It is the way commercial funding works; you have to put up collateral. We would like to see smaller farmers being empowered by receiving that property rights from government.”
Spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Prince Seokotsa, says government will look at ways to help small-scale farmers.
“The department has been able to give them tractors, Nguni cattle and diesel. Now if the cooperation cannot actually sustain itself, what happens is that the department will chip in by going to the farm and give assistance from the state where they feel that these people from here going forward can sustain themselves.”
Despite such challenges, farmers of the Dwaalkraal Cooperative are hopeful for a breakthrough.