A farmer-led committee in the Thabo Mofutsanyana District in the Free State has pledged to ensure that seven new Case…
Chairperson of the District Agri-parks Management Committee (DAMC), Shadrack Mbele, said they were thrilled to take custody of the “beautiful, strong tractors”.
These would form the basis of the Maluti-a-Phofung Farmer Production Support Unit (FPSU), the first of several such units being established by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR).
According to Mbele, a potato packhouse erected by the DRDLR had been repurposed for housing the equipment.
However, the committee had felt that local developing farmers needed to get primary production off the ground properly and hence should be able to make use of a packhouse. They had therefore engaged with the department on the matter.
The DRDLR confirmed that the packhouse would be refurbished as part of its longer-term Agri-parks plan.
Provincial head of the DRDLR in the Free State, Pule Sekawana, said the department had worked with local farmers and other stakeholders to conduct feasibility studies, and decided to use the existing site to fast-track the establishment of the FPSU.
He added that it had been decided to prioritise the establishment of the Maluti-a-Phofung FPSU in Makgolokoeng, Harrismith, due to rapid development in the area as part of the creation of a Department of Trade and Industry Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
Plans were afoot to create several of these FPSUs within each agri hub, which spanned a radius of up to 100km around each of the Agri-parks being developed in the five provincial districts.
“We want the Agri-parks and FPSU itself to be run by the farmers. It will operate on more or less the same basis and principles as a cooperative,” he said.
Sekawana said that construction on the Maluti-a-Phofung FPSU facility was planned to begin as soon as the Department of Environmental Affairs had finalised its Environmental Impact Assessment applications.
Sekawana said that the DRDLR had already sourced mechanisation equipment worth about R20 million
Mbele told Farmer’s Weekly that farmers would now be able to rent the tractors from the FPSU. Equipment included a full range of implements: four rippers, two-disc ploughs, two boom sprayers and two six-row planters. At present, 64 surrounding farmers would benefit from the equipment but access was not restricted to these farmers only.
He added that this was a step in the right direction for realising the vision of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa, which sought the commercialisation of developing farmers.
“We pledge that these tractors will be used effectively. They must help these farmers to grow to another level of production,” he said.
Sekawana said he was proud to have played a role in the establishment of the Maluti-a-Phofung FPSU and looked forward to the roll-out of other FPSUs across the province.
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