‘No more dilly-dallying,’ says minister

Agricultural minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson called on government to stop “dilly-dallying” when it comes to agricultural extension officers.

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“If government can’t produce them, then the time has arrived to consider outsourcing the work to organised agriculture, which has an impeccable record in this regard,” she said at the quarterly MinMEC meeting. Rams Mabote, a special advisor to the minister, told Farmer’s Weekly the minister hasn’t yet set any deadlines for the supply of adequately trained extension officers.
“The point is simply that we can’t wait forever for government to supply extension officers while farmers, and especially small-scale farmers, suffer from a lack of support,” he said. The MinMEC is a quarterly meeting between the minister and MECs for agriculture from all nine provinces to review policy and progress reports.

The minister told MECs that the major driver for the department should be job creation. And to create more lasting job opportunities, government has to prioritise market access, access to finance and skills development. Government and multilateral funding institutions, like the Land Bank, must work towards making affordable loans available to farmers, with a particular emphasis on small-scale farmers, she added. However, she warned producers that demand must dictate supply and said government wouldn’t take the blame when farmers produced surplus above demand.