We agree: SA policies should encourage investment in agriculture

24 May 2012
Published in Blog

Need significant support in terms of access to land, finance, skills and markets for emerging farmers required(IDC)

We agree: SA policies should encourage investment in agricultureWe agree: SA policies should encourage investment in agriculture Picture by: Bloomberg

South African policies on agriculture and farming need to be addressed to ensure sustainable farming, investments and security of food supply in the future, said agriculture union TAU SA GM Bennie van Zyl on Thursday.

The government’s approach towards farming created uncertainty in the agriculture sector, which could result in the country running out of food, he said at an Agribusiness Indaba, pointing to, for example, ownership of land policies.

Van Zyl said many skilled farmers were leaving the industry or country, reducing commercial farming skills and output, as concerns grew over land ownership.

It was no longer about whether the farmer was black or white, it was about whether the farmer successfully used the land for food production, he stressed, adding that the question was what farmers were doing with the 122-million hectare of agricultural land in South Africa.

To date, the government has acquired about 5.9-million hectare of agricultural land in the country, with the intention of distributing it among previously disadvantaged individuals for commercial farming. The government aimed for about 30% black-owned farms by 2014, but Forbes managing editor Chris Bishop said that only a 6% distribution had been achieved.

Industrial Development Corporation head of agroindustries Rian Coetzee said that potential or emerging farmers required significant support in terms of access to land, finance, skills and markets.

Agrifica director Lawrence McCrystal agreed, stating that contributions and investments in capital were required, as well as offtake agreements and support from surrounding farmers. Further, in addition to training, a potential farmer needed the "heart" for farming.

McCrystal pointed out that there were many inhibitors to investments and successful commercial farming, which included the threat of nationalisation and the country's inflexible labour laws. Further, the country required policies and practices that supported and encouraged smaller farmers.

Coetzee agreed, adding that the country and industry needed to encourage and increase the confidence of the smaller players to invest and grow, as investment were only seen from the larger commercial producers.

Further, he added that a number of emerging economies were interested in investing in African agriculture, but Van Zyl believed policies should be addressed to sustain investments.

engineeringnews.co.za, Jolanda Odendaal, May 24th, 2012
via getpocket.com

 

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