North West farmers suspicious of R155 million projects

The announcement by North West’s MEC for agriculture and rural development, Desbo Mohono, that she budgeted R155 million for the implementation of a number of agricultural projects in the 2012/2013 financial year was met with caution by farmers in the province.

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Mohono declined to expand on the specifics of the projects, but said they included agro-processing, marketing and business development, as well as farmer training. Bonsmara stud breeder from Morokweng Duncan Serapelwane called on the department to urgently start a skills transfer project. “It is no use putting people without experience and motivation on valuable agricultural land. We cannot compromise production in that way.”

He added that government must ensure land reform beneficiaries are people who actually want to farm and that they’re equipped with knowledge and support. Commercial tobacco producer from Marico, Daan van der Merwe, added that government must stop dragging its feet and start implementing the projects. He said it’s unacceptable that new recipients of land are left to their own devices without any support.

“Thousands of hectares in North West that have been handed over to new farmers are hired back by commercial farmers, in many cases the previous owners of the land. This situation is counterproductive.” Agri North West president Cor Janse van Vuuren said his organisation hasn’t been involved in the budgeting process at all. “It is very sad that the MEC and her department seemingly do not recognise the role of commercial farmers in the province at all,” he said. “We are more than prepared to assist the government in the development and establishment of emerging farmers.” 

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