New publication celebrates citrus empowerment

Launching the publication Harvest of Hope, which celebrates the successes of 14 BEE joint-venture enterprises in the Western and Northern Cape
Issue date : 08 August 2008

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Launching the publication Harvest of Hope, which celebrates the successes of 14 BEE joint-venture enterprises in the Western and Northern Cape citrus industry, chairperson of the Western Producers’ Forum Gerrit van der Merwe commented that South African society is in the process of dramatic and sometimes traumatic transition.

“Agriculture is no different and the pressure facing commercial farming enterprises to keep up with the challenges resulting from both economic change and the transformation of society far exceed similar expectations elsewhere in the world,” he said. H e added that close to 3 000 workers are already sharing land ownership in the Cape citrus regions as a result of BEE initiatives.

Further, if the much larger community of workers and their families are included, that figure rises to around 25 000 people affected by the successes of the industry. In a previous visit to the Cedar Citrus BEE partnership started by Van der Merwe, his brother and 36 of their workers in 1998, Archbishop Desmond said that: “If 10 years ago someone had told me would see white farmers and their workers in this valley becoming partners, especially a farmer called Van der would never have believed them. The hopes and dreams of the rainbow nation are alive and well in the citrus orchards of Citrusdal.” n a special message for the Harvest of Hope launch Tutu said, “For some years now have been following the progress in the transformation of the citrus industry in the Western Cape.

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On these farms people are not only sharing ownership in agricultural enterprises, but whole communities share in the social structures which have been built up around these farms. Through partnership with commercial farmers they share in technology and skills transfer and this puts them on the road to success.” – Wouter Kriel

Agri SA tackle input costs

Rising input costs remain a serious threat to the profitability of South African agriculture and have been identified as a critical performance area by Agri SA’s Commodity Chamber. The chamber decided at its July meeting that fertiliser price hikes should be followed up on by, among other structures, the Competition Commission, to expedite inquiries already under way. Grain SA has been tasked with analysing current supply and price formation.

Neels Ferreira, chairperson of the chamber, expressed his concerns about the enormous pressure from the trade union movements to reduce food prices. “What these movements fail to understand is that farmers are price takers, not price makers. All the noise about nationalising bread, maize meal and milk production will only result in price reductions for a few months,” he explained “After that such products would just not be available any more because production would become impossible.

The key to lower food prices remains with the free market system, provided the markets are expanded, and with sound competition on the input side of production. Farmers are committed to profitable food production at affordable prices, for consumers who are keen to find out who or what is generating super-profits in the food value chain.”

It was decided that the chamber would approach government again for total tax exemption on diesel. Currently the fuel refund is 90,9c/â„“. “We will petition government because agriculture uses the fuel to provide food for the nation,” said Ferreira. “We’re aware of accusations that farmers abuse the system and urge anyone with information in this regard to inform the chamber. But it’s highly unlikely it’s happening on a large scale. The majority operate within the law.” – Annelie Coleman