Emerg­ing black farm­ers on the rise de­spite grim pic­ture

CityPress - - Business - JA­COB ROOI busi­ness@city­press.co.za

The num­ber of emerg­ing and up­com­ing farm­ers is on the rise, de­spite the grim pic­ture of­ten painted with re­gards to agri­cul­ture and black farm­ers, ac­cord­ing to key role play­ers in the in­dus­try.

Emerg­ing black farm­ers are de­liv­er­ing a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

The de­vel­op­ment is hap­pen­ing de­spite in­ad­e­quate as­sis­tance from the state and the in­com­pe­tence of of­fi­cials in the depart­ment of ru­ral de­vel­op­ment and land re­form.

The depart­ment again made head­lines last month af­ter it was re­vealed that the depart­ment only spent 14.7% of its bud­get – less than R1.5 bil­lion out of R10.2 bil­lion – in the first quar­ter. Ad­di­tion­ally, just 14% of land re­form tar­gets were met.

Nom­fundo Go­bodo, chief land claims com­mis­sioner, also in­di­cated that only 49 claims were fi­nalised in the first quar­ter of the year, far short of the tar­get of 200.

In re­la­tion to resti­tu­tion, the depart­ment also missed all of its tar­gets for the first quar­ter.

Deputy ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Agri SA Christo van der Rheede said the agri­cul­tural sec­tor had al­ready in­ter­vened to em­power farm work­ers and new en­trants to the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

“Some of our large af­fil­i­ates – such as Grain SA, Wool SA, Sugar SA, Cot­ton SA, the red meat pro­duc­ers and the sub­trop­i­cal in­dus­try – spent R300 mil­lion on de­vel­op­ment in the past fi­nan­cial year,” Van der Rheede said.

In the Western Cape, North­ern Cape, North-West, Lim­popo, KwaZulu-Natal and Gaut­eng, some of Agri SA’s lead­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions are also in­volved with the de­vel­op­ment of farm work­ers.

Grain SA CEO Jan­nie de Villiers said the de­vel­op­ment of new farm­ers has been held back by the fact that they don’t have own­er­ship of their land. De Villiers has been part of a pro­gramme to in­volve thou­sands of farm­ers in de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes. Some can only at­tend the free cour­ses, while oth­ers are able to ob­tain fund­ing in or­der to be­come farm­ers.

This is part of a com­pre­hen­sive farmer de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme to de­velop black com­mer­cial farm­ers and to con­trib­ute to house­hold and na­tional food se­cu­rity.

In 2016, 9 754 farm­ers in study groups in ten dis­tricts around the coun­try par­tic­i­pated.

“Farmer days” were also held where var­i­ous role play­ers in the grain sec­tor met up.

Al­to­gether, these farm­ers cul­ti­vate

148 641 hectares of farm land across the coun­try.

Grain SA also has a spe­cial pro­gramme aimed at ad­vanced and com­mer­cial black farm­ers, who are in­ten­sively sup­ported for one year.

Grain SA gets no money from the state for man­ag­ing the pro­gramme, but the or­gan­i­sa­tion does re­cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion for the state.

Trea­sury also gives the job cre­ation funds R1 for each rand that Grain SA con­trib­utes and the depart­ment of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy helps with small­ish ma­chin­ery for sub­sis­tence farm­ers.

Win-win part­ner­ship be­tween farm­ers and ben­e­fi­cia­ries can also be found in other agri­cul­tural sec­tors.

Cot­ton SA cur­rently pro­vides train­ing and men­tor­ship for 974 farm­ers who or­gan­ised them­selves into 18 co­op­er­a­tives in Nko­mazi, Mpumalanga. This area is very warm and ground is ideal for plant­ing cot­ton, said Hen­nie Bruwer, CEO of Cot­ton SA.

In 2016, 2 747ha were cul­ti­vated, of which 1 460ha were planted by hand.

With the as­sis­tance of a team from Cot­ton SA, an av­er­age yield of 950 kilo­grams per ha was pro­duced, which trans­lates into an in­come of R19.95 mil­lion or R4 117 per farmer, per hectare.

The depart­ment of ru­ral de­vel­op­ment and land re­form con­trib­uted R7.7 mil­lion and Cot­ton SA an­other R1.2 mil­lion.

The Na­tional Wool Grow­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (NWGA) also or­gan­ises and pro­vides men­tor­ship to sheep farm­ers on small­hold­ings.

Over the past 20 years these farm­ers’ wool pro­duc­tion grew from 222 610 kilo­grams of wool to 4.462 mil­lion kilo­grams with a value of R233.6 mil­lion.

Leon de Beer, gen­eral man­ager of the NWGA, said: “The con­sid­er­able in­crease in pro­duc­tion and in­come can largely be as­cribed to the train­ing and men­tor­ship of the NWGA.”

Re­search into the so­cial im­pact of this has shown that the num­ber of house­holds with chil­dren who go to bed hun­gry has de­clined from 41% in 2004 to 24% in 2015 and is still de­creas­ing.

The num­ber of house­holds with sav­ing ac­counts has in­creased from 49% in 2004 to 84% in 2015. House­holds that had to bor­row money de­creased from 77% in 2005 to 48% in 2015.

The SA Pork Pro­duc­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (Sappa) has a de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme for new pro­duc­ers that fo­cuses mainly on train­ing. Sappa is cur­rently re­spon­si­ble for four de­vel­op­ment farms.

In the 2016/17 fi­nan­cial year, Sappa paid over R5.8 mil­lion for de­vel­op­ment.

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