The organisation, called Harry Gwala Agri (HGA), is a collaboration between commercial farmers and supporting partners from southern KZN’s Kokstad, Highflats, Ixopo, Creighton, and Swartberg areas.
HGA said that it intended to facilitate the sharing of farming resources, including knowledge, equipment, funding and training, with emerging farmers at grassroots level.
The organisation’s chairperson, John Bredin, said that HGA was “born of a need to redress past injustices and discrimination by giving back to the local community in a meaningful way”.
“The land question, and more recently land reform, is a political football. We’re not saying there isn’t a need to redistribute land in this country. On the contrary, we know this needs to happen. What we are saying is that there should be structures in place to allow for a redistribution of skills to nurture the passion of developing farmers into successful and sustainable farming enterprises,” Bredin said.
Andy Buchan, president of the KZN Agricultural Union (Kwanalu), said that an initiative like HGA reinforced his belief that there was sufficient goodwill in South Africa’s farming communities to facilitate the transformation necessary to improve the livelihoods of every individual in the agricultural sector.
“The solution to issues confronting the agricultural sector rests with us, the people on the ground. The sustainability of these types of initiatives will rest on a genuine desire to be a catalyst in the transformation of lives, not only in agriculture. It needs to be built on relationships of trust over time, and not merely a motion of ticking the box or window-dressing,” Buchan said.
Speaking at HGA’s launch, political-economic trends analyst, Professor JP Landman, said that land reform in SA could not happen without the support of skilled farmers.
“Farmers need to step up to the plate to help the transfer of land to be a success,” he said.
Bredin urged all farmers in southern KZN to adopt the spirit of ubuntu and to contribute in any way they could towards helping HGA achieve its goals.