In a media statement, Matlala was particularly pleased with what he described as “the commitment by government to identify agriculture as a key job driver as well as the plans they will put in place to support smallholder farmers”.
However, the NAFU SA president was mostly dissatisfied with how government had been managing agricultural development so far and urged political leaders to effectively address a number of concerns highlighted by the farmers’ union.
One of these was that “policies to establish thousands of subsistence farmers will have to be revisited in terms of their financial viability”.
Matlala explained this was necessary, given that “economic fundamentals are forcing the consolidation of farming units” to enable them to “survive and to afford new technology to become more effective”.
“If commercial farmers are in a constant battle to maintain profitability with low food prices, how can smaller, less cost-effective units ever hope to develop into commercial farmers?”
Another concern of NAFU SA related to the government’s national agricultural budget for 2014 being “totally unsatisfactory to address the serious challenges facing SA agriculture”.
Government will have to increase the allocation in the budget more in line with agriculture’s contribution to GDP, said Matlala.
Read the full statement by NAFU.