World class agriculture vs land expropriation
09:00 (GMT+2), Thu, 14 June 2012
World class agriculture – that is what South Africa’s primary food producers are all about.
I’ve travelled quite a bit through the central parts of the country during the past few weeks and realised again how successful our commercial farmers are. They have become accomplished businesspeople who run their operations on sound economic principles. The days of potbellies, veldskoene and coffee on the stoep are long gone. The economic reality of farming is that only the fittest will survive and SA’s farmers have risen to the challenge admirably.
That is why I agree with Grain SA’s Jannie de Villiers’ sentiments that commercial farmers must position themselves as food and fibre producers and not merely as farmers.
Locally there’s a negative political connotation to the term ‘farmer’, whether we like it or not. The time has come for the commercial agriculture sector to change from within and actively promote the industry as an indispensable building block in South Africa. And not just the primary producers – our agri-businesses have become valued players in the global economy.
For instance, let’s take a look at the highly sophisticated Kanhym piggery in Mpumalanga I wrote an article on some weeks ago. This is not your run-of-the-mill pig farm. It’s a highly sophisticated business that matches up to the best of its kind in Europe. No mean feat! And the economic realities of local agriculture have forced every commercial enterprise in the country to become a world-class operation, irrespective of size.
That’s why I’m so worried by the ANCYL’s calls for expropriation of land and its direct attack on the “willing buyer, willing selling” principle. I was even more perturbed to learn that the ANC’s top structures in Limpopo have adopted a motion in favour of land expropriation without compensation.
What do these people think is going to happen if land is expropriated and doled our to goodness knows who? Do they really want to go the route of so many other African countries that nearly destroyed themselves in the same way and are now clamouring for the South African commercial farmers that are so undervalued in their own country?