Farmers lag behind

In terms of the multitude of market-related problems and challenges which farmers in general seek to address at the many sector-specific conferences and meetings held across our country almost on a daily basis, we are largely being left behind in the cut-throat world of ‘big business’.

- Advertisement -

While our ilk have indeed made giant strides in terms of the modernisation and ‘scientification’ of agriculture and animal husbandry (often at immense cost), we are still left to the whims and demands of big retailers which always have the final say in terms of important commodity-related value chain variables. The questions beg to be asked whether they are really more astute than we are and whether we will forever be satisfied with our somewhat unglamorous lot in the broader business equation.

It is no secret that distressed farmers are going out of business almost every day because they cannot balance the scales of input versus output – does this not worry us as an increasingly marginalised sector? As a segment, we have indeed been shrewd in terms of establishing co-operatives which allow leeway in terms of minimising input costs, but we seem to be mesmerised and intimidated by those entities which at our expense have a vested interest in the important and lucrative end of the value chain.

While as farmers we may receive R35/kg for rump steak (which has taken years to produce at great cost), is it moral that the consumer is requested to pay R70/ kg or more after the product has been on the shop shelf for only a few minutes or hours?
Does this vulgar profiteering not lead to market resistance which chastises us, the producers, in the long run?

- Advertisement -

Many retail entities have, to our detriment, been found to be acting in contravention of anti-competitive legislation and so forth but we still remain in a state of paralysis and continue to kowtow to our masters. Where is our grit and guts which has kept us on the land for so long? When will we start realising that agriculture is also a business and not just a way of life that many of us were born into?