Business in small farming communities has been dwindling for some time, as youngsters pursue better-paying jobs in the cities. As the buying power of the rural population decreases, so do the profits of small-town business.
Bigger franchises or foreign-owned shops with bulk-buying power or lower overhead costs take over, often only to leave when profit margins don’t meet expectations at HQ – leaving towns without job opportunities and easy access to goods. Meanwhile, government is spending billions on trying to revive rural economies and receiving no value for its money. Here, the game industry has a successful model to generate revenue and create employment both for its investors and rural communities.
All that is required is for government to do its job regarding biosecurity. Animal health inspectors on our border with Zimbabwe (a foot-and-mouth disease-infected zone) are literally sleeping on the job, and vehicles are entering SA without inspection. It is only a matter of time before the disease crosses our border, if it hasn’t done so already.
Christo van der Rheede, deputy executive director of Agri SA, says on page 6 that reviving the rural economy will take collective effort and a holistic view. We won’t see success if government, smalltown business and farmers continue to work on their own, or if we continue with a simplistic approach focused on subsistence farmers only.
An economic system is complex and relies on an interconnected network of role players who both contribute to and benefit from it. But things are still more or less ‘every man for himself’ – typical of our society. Everyone is out to make a quick buck, often at the expense of someone else.
We need a return to ethics. Whether in the form of a government official being productive and working frugally with our tax money or a contractor doing a job well and asking a fair price, we’re contributing to the social and economic well-being of our community.
On that note, it saddens me that I must warn our readers and advertisers to be vigilant regarding any third party publishing content belonging to Farmer’s Weekly or claiming to act on our behalf. Nowadays it is easy for unscrupulous digital publishers to lift copy from other publications and sell advertising space on the back of that copy.
Farmer’s Weekly is owned by Caxton, without any affiliation to other publishers. When in doubt, check whether the person’s name you’re dealing with is listed on this page. I trust that you will help us to continue delivering quality content for another 104 years. We are, after all, reliant on each other.