Minister of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Senzeni Zokwana, recently announced the establishment of the Producer/Farmer Register (PFR).
During the recent launch of the PFR, Zokwana said that the register would run from 2018 until 2021 alongside the Census of Commercial Agriculture (COCA), which was being conducted with the assistance of Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).
He said that it was critical for government to have reliable statistics and information about the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors to help with better planning and decision making. He especially appealed to smallholders to register.
“Our extension officers will be approaching smallholder producers and farmers and I am urging them to open their gates to allow this project to succeed,” he said.
The PFR was intended to address seven areas, one of which aimed to improve “inaccurate and misrepresented statistics of farmers in the non-commercial sector”.
There would be a strong focus on using the data to identify smallholders and track beneficiaries of agricultural support and development strategies.
It was also intended to enable the development of indicators in line with planning tools such as the Medium-Term Strategic Framework and the National Development Plan, as well as provide the department with a basis to measure performance across all levels of the sector and establish a frame of reference for future surveys.
Zokwana emphasised that the establishment of the registry was in no way linked to the current discourse around expropriation of land without compensation.
Dan Kriek, Agri SA president, and Annelize Crosby, head of land affairs at Agri SA, told Farmer’s Weekly that they welcomed the COCA as a necessary process to gather data from which informed decisions could be made.
Kriek said organised agriculture enjoyed a healthy working relationship with Stats SA and urged farmers to co-operate, adding that agreements were in place to ensure officials adhered to and respected farm safety protocols.
Commenting on the establishment of the PFR, Crosby said that there had been calls to establish this type of database for years.
She added, however, that there were concerns about issues like confidentiality as a registry compiled and maintained by DAFF would not be subject to the same type of protective legislation to which other bodies, such as Stats SA, had to adhere.