Rian Pheiffer, Managing Director of Overberg Agri, voiced his disappointment with the poor attendance of especially commercial farmers at the Agricultural Indaba.
He said the poor attendance of producers, agricultural specialists and agribusinesses reflected poorly on the industry, and communicates to the general public that the industry is not functioning as a unity.
Pheiffer added that the negative perceptions of agriculture have become so strong that it no longer really matters what is said or done, even if these perceptions are based on lies and false reports. The industry, therefore, has no choice but to develop a whole new approach to restore its image, he said.
Pheiffer was also concerned that only one of the topics discussed at the two-day Indaba focused on profitability. “The agricultural industry is struggling to remain sustainable. There should be more focus on sustainable and profitable production. Or are the political challenges more important than the industry’s survival?” he asked. Pheiffer added the can’t wait for the rest of the country to find solutions to the region’s problems. He suggested that people in the region, which includes Caledon, Riviersonderend, Hermanus, Bredasdorp, Napier, Swellendam and Heidelberg, join forces to find solutions to the problems confronting the area, as these problems have become too politicised and fragmented in the rest of the country. “Everybody needs to be involved in addressing the problems facing the agricultural industry as the industry is responsible for generating more than half of the region’s income. Without agriculture this region would turn into a ghost town,” he said. He added that it is time for the region to become practical in addressing problems. – Glenneis Erasmus