DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE
and land affairs Dirk du Toit has called on emerging farmers – especially those producing vegetables and other perishable commodities – to form cooperatives to help them penetrate the competitive market.
Du Toit said the market these days demands hygienic, good-quality products and a continual supply. Du Toit’s comments were in response to complaints from emerging farmers in the Bojanala district in North West that they are failing to break into the competitive market which they say is dominated by large producers.
Sello Mosai, who runs the 21ha Mosai-Kwena Farm, said he has tried to enter the commercial market but has been unsuccessful. Mosai said he started farming with the aim of supplying prisons, police stations and hospitals.
“It is unfortunate that the same government which is supposed to be supporting the AgriBEE concept is failing to assist us. Government institutions are unwilling to buy from us despite them getting the products from middlemen who are buying from us. It would be much cheaper for them if they deal directly with us,” Mosai said.
He said major chain stores have stringent demands which they fail to meet due to capital problems. “The established market puts the consumers’ health first. We appreciate it but we don’t have the capital to reach some of the required standards,” he said.
Du Toit said it would also be easier for government to support farmers if they are grouped together. “Even the construction of packhouses and other infrastructural development would be easier,” he said. – Fidelis Zvomuya
Dirk du Toit, deputy minister of agriculture and
land affairs, buys some vegetables from a community market run by emerging vegetable farmers in the Brits area in North West.
OIL PRICE AND CLIMATE CHANGE TO HIT SA
ALTHOUGH FIGURES SHOW THAT THE SA
economy has grown more quickly than economists anticipated, they have warned that rising oil prices and climate change will impact significantly on economic growth and the agricultural sector.
Leonard Seelig, former managing director of the Bank of America in Europe, said at the recent allFresh! conference at Sun City in North West that although SA is currently experiencing its second-longest growth phase in its economic history, the rise in oil prices are beginning to affect the local economy by slowing growth, and increasing inflation and interest rates.
“There will never ever again be cheap oil. I don’t think any of us should fool ourselves to believe that oil will go back down to a barrel,” said Seelig.
He said the rise in oil prices is generating much interest in alternative fuel sources in the agricultural sector. “None of these are economically viable at this point. But as long as the oil price remains at a barrel they will continue to be interesting to farmers and producers around the world,” he said.
“If oil were to hit 0 a barrel we would see substantial economic pain across the world and recession in all major economies,” said Seelig.
Dr Tobias Doyer, CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber, said biofuels will be an economically viable option depending on the level of government support.
Climate change, said Seelig, will have many implications for agriculture. He cited the past summer season in the UK, which was one of the hottest and driest recorded, and resulted in major water restrictions. Doyer said climate change will have a significant impact on production patterns and places of production in SA. “We will have to look at irrigation patterns and water management to deal with this threat,” he said. – Wilma den Hartigh
HE CEO OF SOUTH AFRICAN
National Parks (SANParks) David Mabunda has been recruited as a non-executive board member of HL Hall & Sons – which used to own the farm where he was born. The Nelspruit-based company, which has a 116-year-old farming history, packages up to 54 tons of fresh produce a day. “I look forward to contributing to the group’s performance. Joining Halls is something of a homecoming for me,” said Mabunda. Halls has since returned the 6 000ha prime commercial farmland to the Mdluli community following a successful land claim. Before his stint at SANParks which began in 2003, Mabunda was the first black director of the Kruger National Park. He holds a PhD in ecotourism management. “His experience in management transformation and land- and property-related issues, together with his considerable intellect and general management skills, will add great value to our business,” said Halls managing director Dr Rob Snaddon. – African Eye News Service
department said deregistration of beneficiaries of agricultural projects has been completed. This came after 150 commercial farms bought for communities as part of the land reform programme collapsed. The farms, mostly in the Tzaneen area, have cost the government more than R71 million. Department spokesperson Khathu Sadiki says they are seeking partners to help the remaining beneficiaries continue with farming. – Wallace Muir