Yershen Pillay, NYDA executive chairperson, revealed this at the recent African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (Afraca) workshop in Pretoria. The NYDA is an active member of Afraca, a continental organisation involved in promoting rural agricultural finance. Pillay said youth unemployment was a big challenge for South Africa, as 25% of the population were unemployed, and of this, 72% were people younger than 35. Rural under-development contributed to this.
“It’s something that we cannot ignore when we’re talking about rural financing, especially livestock finance,” he added.
Pillay said South Africa had lost its status as a net exporter, and was now a net importer of meat products. “How is it possible, with all our resources? It simply can’t be right,” he asked.
Pillay blamed the problem on the deregulation of agricultural markets, saying the local agriculture sector was one of the most deregulated in the world. Antonio Rota, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) senior technical advisor on livestock and farming systems, emphasised the importance of rural financing.
He said the livestock sector was essential to the livelihood of about one billion of the world’s poorest people, and accounted for 30% of agricultural GDP in developing countries. It was also growing faster than most other agricultural sub-sectors.