More goods & better production

I refer to Prof Andre Jooste’s report outlined in ‘How agri-food value chains work’ (20 July, pg 42).

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For the record, I am a farmer and former marketing man, and have experienced the rigours of dealing with national chain stores and producers of secondary products in the milling industry. I contend that we are paying too much for everything because we have to deal with conglomerates, consortiums, government bungling and monopolies.

Government does not seem to understand that lower interest rates do not encourage investment as a weaker rand causes prices to rise at a faster rate. The analogy that we must have a weak currency to export goods is rubbish. We need to produce more goods and get production up. If countries like Australia can do it, why can’t we?

The weak rand shows up in the fact that the world has lost confidence in this country. The investor will not spend money in SA due to the double standards that the government employs, that is, it says it wants more local industries and to create employment, but its actions don’t support this. Labour unions, archaic laws, threats of nationalisation and expropriation – who in his right mind is going to invest here?

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In the so-called value chain, the workers are not benefiting from greater output and more money, the top men and women are. The salaries paid are also not in keeping with service. If Prof Jooste says the returns in milling are low, and this has lead to mills not being refurbished, I can tell him that in the old days when a mill was closed as uneconomical, the company put a hammer to the equipment to render it unserviceable so that small millers could not lay their hands on the equipment.

Then what about the farmer? Well, he just has to accept what is passed down from the millers or buyers. It remains a mystery as to why we have to look to world prices when we should not even be exporting, as the market exists here. Perhaps we should stop sending free food to our neighbours up north. Who, Prof Jooste, controls the cost of input to the farmer? Look carefully… it is the fuel companies and government, fertiliser companies and the seed men.

The farmer in this country is solely a price-taker and has no say over his market. All costs are beyond his control and he is being squeezed by monopolies in the milk, milling and other industries as well as supermarkets and manufacturers. When the farmers have left the land, the rand has dropped to R20 to the US dollar, the mines have been nationalised and farms expropriated, all of these price makers will have to look each other in the eye and ask, where to now?

There will be no work because we won’t have the money or the market to export our primary product to, because we will not be able to afford to fund the mines, or imports of chicken, milk and fertiliser from overseas, because the rand will have no value. Subsequently, there will be no work because of the above, and the death wish that was bestowed upon us by the likes of the SACP/ANC and their economic policies would have come to fruition.

Read the full article on ‘How agri-food value chains work’.