Opportunities abound for alert farmers – TAU president

Fallow state land and agreements with Brics countries could result in many business opportunities for innovative farmers.

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Speaking at the TAU SA Young Farmer’s Conference recently, president Louis Meintjes said that farmers needed to start thinking out of the box to find opportunities to stay afloat. “The state has land that it is not going to sell or develop. When they realise that it needs to be utilised, there will be an opportunity for young farmers to hire that land and produce food on it.”
He said that being part of the Brics countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA) meant there were more opportunities for farmers.

“Strange requests are coming in from those countries like huge orders for chicken legs and pig snouts. Farmers need to be on the ball to capitalise on these opportunities.” Bennie van Zyl, general manager of TAU SA, encouraged farmers to pool their resources to beat rising input costs. “Everyone wants to be the boss of their own farm, but there are many benefits to farming together. If six farmers are farming next to each other, why not use economies of scale to bargain for better prices.”

He said that farmers could draw up contracts to make provision for any concerns they had about working together.
“The sector needs to start doing research in this direction to look at the possibilities. Otherwise farmers might not be able to stay ahead of expensive technology.” Van Zyl explained that for farmers to succeed in today’s market they needed to operate at the highest possible level of technology.

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“There are answers for every problem you have on the farm. The knowledge is out there and while government institutions are failing in this regard, the private sector can help. Make sure you stay informed.” Meintjes added that farmers needed to
innovate to add to the value chain. “Farmers must ensure that their product is going from the farm to the consumer’s table. Think about those opportunities because you need to produce directly for the consumer.”

Addressing the many challenges facing farmers, Van Zyl said farmers should ask themselves if they were positioned to face the constraints within the sector. “Ask if your neighbour can keep standing because if he can’t and that farm becomes a squatter camp then you will have to face other problems.”  

Willie Clack, chairperson of the Gauteng Red Meat Producers Organisation, cautioned farmers against stock theft. “Crime is opportunistic and dynamic and cannot take place unless there is an absence of security measures, so make sure you are not vulnerable.” He noted that the price of meat and stock theft trends run together. “The higher the price of meat, the more stock theft incidents are recorded.”