KZN farmers spell out their needs to government

KwaZulu-Natal farmers of all races and production scales have presented a comprehensive list of their needs and concerns to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (DAEA).

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This was done at a two day Organised Agriculture Summit hosted by the KZN DAEA, which followed a two day Emerging Farmers Summit held in January. KZN DAEA spokesperson, Jeffrey Zikhali, said that the MEC, Dr Meshack Radebe used both summits as an opportunity to learn where he could appropriately allocate funds in his 2013/2014 budget, due to be tabled in May, for maximum benefit of the province’s whole agricultural sector.

“Addressing the farmers, Radebe highlighted many issues affecting farmers, particularly unity in the farming sector as a key factor in the acceleration of agricultural development,” Zikhali said. “The MEC made it clear that the department does not want to get involved in the internal politics of the organised farmer structures, but to assist farmers in agricultural development.”

Radebe reportedly added that the KZN DAEA was “working hard in assisting farmers to curb the racial divide among them,” and was endeavouring to close these divisions. Some of the issues that the farmers raised at the summit included that government needed to assist developing farmers to become established businesspeople, and that it should help farmers to find markets for their products.

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In turn, among other aspects, the KZN DAEA said that it appreciated established white farmers sharing their experience with developing farmers, and that different segments of the agricultural value chain should respect each other and work together for mutual benefit.

The KZN DAEA said that representatives from the National African Farmers’ Union, the KZN Agricultural Union, livestock owners’ associations, agricultural co-operatives, the Eston Black Farmers’ Association, the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation, the Association of African Farmers in South Africa, and Women in Agriculture and Rural Development attended the Organised Agriculture Summit.