KZN farmers welcome new agri MEC

Kwanalu hopes that KwaZulu-Natal’s newly appointed MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Cyril Xaba will see the union’s commercial farmers as strategic partners and allies.

KZN farmers welcome new agri MEC
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“Kwanalu is pleased with the appointment of MEC Xaba,” said Kwanalu CEO Sandy la Marque. “Having chaired the KZN Provincial Planning Commission he’s had an opportunity to objectively be exposed to, and grasp some of the realities, for example, land restitution, tenant, dweller and labour issues, and economic pressures faced by the agriculture sector.

“In the dealings we have had with him in the past he has come across as being a person of good judgment and sound capability.”

Kwanalu expressed concern that over the past decade or more, the KZN department of agriculture had not used a “balanced approach” regarding the promotion of household, subsistence and commercial agriculture in the province.

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La Marque explained that this had led to a lack of a strategic focus “on agriculture as a key economic driver in the province, particularly with respect to food security, research and development, veterinary services and employment opportunities”.

“This can only be achieved when an environment is created for growth and economic sustainability.”

The top three priorities Kwanalu hoped Xaba would urgently attend to where to set up a consultative structure with KZN’s commercial agriculture sector, engage in partnerships with the sector and improve the research, extension, veterinary and training components of the department.

“These were once world-class and key cornerstones of the agriculture sector in the province,” said La Marque. “It’s essential that every effort be made to restore confidence in these aspects as a matter of urgency.”

The former KZN Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs will now be known as Agriculture and Rural Development.

Due to the major changes being made within his department, Farmer’s Weekly was unable to get comment from Xaba.

Follow Lloyd on Twitter @PhillipsLM