‘Developing farmers’ are both black and white

The agricultural industry remains an economic cornerstone in South Africa, but still does not receive the credit it deserves. This was according to Standard Bank Free State agricultural manager, Danie Retief.

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Speaking at the 2013 SA Studbook annual general meeting in Bloemfontein recently, he said this could, among other factors, be ascribed to a lack of strong, innovative and inspiring government leadership. “We need leaders who understand business and grasp and respect the socio-political demands on the industry. What we need is to formulate a vision that unifies the role players.

“This can only be achieved through effective and sincere communication. Every role player, from farm to fork, will have to engage in the process to create a workable communication model between parties involved in agriculture,” Retief said. South Africa also needed young agricultural entrepreneurs. The term ‘developing farmers’ included both young black and white men and women, according to Retief.

He said such young people were essential for food production, job creation and the development of the agricultural sector as a whole. “We’ll have to consider new financing models and disciplines based on risk- sharing and mentorship, to accommodate potential young farmers. We need to create opportunities for young people in the value chain to take agriculture into the future,” he said.

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Retief said increased investment in research and development was essential for agriculture to retain its competitive edge. Agricultural land and water sources were limited, and given the increasing demand from consumers, technology and technological development were of the essence.