THE POLICE, ANTI-STOCK theft units and farmers must cooperate to combat stock theft, says Captain MS Rute, assistant coordinator of the SA Police Service (SAPS) anti-stock theft department in the Eastern Cape.
Speaking at a farmers’ meeting at Steytlerville, he said it was essential for farmers to become police reservists. He also pointed out that police are paid by taxpayers to combat crime and therefore every member is duty-bound to earn his salary through hard, honest work.
He warned that any allegations of corrupt policemen or those in cahoots with stock thieves will be thoroughly investigated. Captain Derick du Rand of the anti-stock theft unit in Uitenhage urged farmers to count their flocks regularly, to report losses immediately and not to destroy physical evidence of a crime. “Because of lack of manpower, we can’t travel hundreds of kilometres if there’s no case,” he warned. “Information should be reported to the local SAPS to follow up.
Also, don’t expect results too quickly – it can take months to catch the bigger crooks.” Du Rand also asked farmers to check if their workers have criminal records, because suspects move from farm to farm looking for work. A spokesperson for the Steytlerville SAPS assured farmers that regular farm patrols, which had been discontinued, will now be resumed. – Roelof Bezuidenhout
Africans can benefit from rice shortage
Africa’s current rice shortage is an opportunity for rice farmers to boost production. This is according to a report by the Africa Rice Centre (Warda) based in Benin. “In Africa, south of the Sahara, we have 130 million hectares of suitable land, of which only 3,9 million hectares are cultivated,” said the report.
“In Asia, the challenge is not so much how to increase the area of land planted with rice, but how to maintain it at current levels.” According to Warda director-general Papa Abdoulaye Seck, his studies have shown that African rice production under irrigation can be as competitive as in Asia and a lot cheaper than in the US. “This continent has great potential because of its land and water resources,” said Seck, adding that Africa would only be able to build a competitive and sustainable agricultural sector if efficient technology and infrastructure were used.
The report also showed that last year, African farmers boosted yields by 6% by using the New Rice for Africa hybrid that Warda developed, but “the gains were cancelled out by a sharp increase in rice consumption in Africa,” said the report. The hybrid aims to decrease the 40% of rice Africa imports annually by combining the ruggedness and adaptability of African varieties with the high-yielding Asian varieties. – David Steynberg