The Department of Agriculture recently hosted a workshop on biofuels to provide agricultural sector stakeholders with an opportunity to make additional input before the strategy is finalised and tabled to government. But many participants in the workshop expressed disappointment about some of the proposals in the strategy and the inability of officials to clarify certain issues.
John Purchase, CEO of Grain SA, said he’s concerned that the sector will be over-regulated. This will prevent entrepreneurs from investing in the industry. “Government must just create an enabling environment,” Purchase said. He said although it is good that the department is consulting with all stakeholders, it must discern which inputs are constructive and credible. Dr Tobias Doyer, CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber, agrees that over-regulation will do more harm than good to the sector. “The costs of regulation will impose substantial costs on the private sector,” Doyer said. He emphasised that regulation is, however, important and necessary for the industry in areas such as regulation of quality and black economic empowerment. “Regulation of quality is important because if it is bad it will destroy the market,” he said. He said black economic empowerment issues cannot be resolved through regulation alone. “We need a system in place to support black farmers that will empower them to deliver,” he said. – Wilma den Hartigh