Farmers warned not to react to ‘irresponsible comments’

Farmers tend to find a catastrophe in everything and ‘over-react’ to irresponsible comments from certain quarters, Eastern Cape RPO (ECRPO)chairperson Dr Pieter Prinsloo told delegates at the organisation’s AGM held outside Middelburg recently.

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“We need to rather learn to adapt and survive in circumstances which may not be our first choice,” he said, adding that agriculture must be seen as a means of unifying South Africans. “As an agricultural commodity, the RPO is presently part of numerous industry-specific and societal changes which are accompanied by feelings of insecurity in some circles.

“We are by far the largest commodity in the Eastern Cape and fully understand that it’s our responsibility to be effective in our striving to represent our members and the producer at all levels,” said Prinsloo. “Red meat production is the biggest industry in the Eastern Cape hinterland and increasingly we are being viewed as an important role player in developing the province’s economy.

“A unified approach to developing our sector is therefore more important now than ever before.”

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Prinsloo added that price drops in the meat value chain, which are not being passed on to the consumer, are being perpetually discussed. An educational/awareness campaign which strives to make ‘big business’ understand that it can’t function without the primary producer has been mooted. “According to the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy, things will be looking up for the red meat industry in the coming few years and we thus need to position ourselves in such a manner that we meet challenges effectively and extract maximum value from the increase in demand for our product,” said Prinsloo.

The ECRPO’s vision is to “attain optimum productivity levels and profitability of red meat production in the Eastern Cape,” he said. Prinsloo also said bio-security is becoming increasingly important in animal husbandry and this dimension thus deserves serious attention. “Interaction has been undertaken with the Eastern Cape State Veterinary department and it’s reassuring to know that, especially, the emergency unit is very well organised – a fact which was not known to many grass roots-level producers,” said Prinsloo.

The need for an animal health forum has also been highlighted, he said, and asked members to support this initiative to contain and combat the spread of serious and listed stock diseases.