Mar­ket knowl­edge ex­plored

Wa­ter scarcity in the ru­ral re­gion of John Taolo Gaet­sewe has a neg­a­tive im­pact on work that farm­ers are do­ing

The New Age (Northern Cape) - - NEWS - TIISETSO MANOKO ti­iset­som@the­newage.co.za

LACK of knowl­edge and ex­po­sure to mar­kets were the is­sues ex­plored at the sec­ond an­nual ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers con­fer­ence in Kim­ber­ley yes­ter­day.

Emma Mo­laolwe, an ex­ten­sion of­fi­cer re­spon­si­ble for food se­cu­rity in John Taolo Gaet­sewe dis­trict, said one of the big­gest chal­lenges that they were wit­ness­ing was the lack of at­ten­tion to the needs of farm­ers.

She said wa­ter scarcity in the ru­ral re­gion of John Taolo Gaet­sewe was hav­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact on the work that the farm­ers were do­ing and ul­ti­mately af­fect­ing their farm­ing, live­stock as well as crops.

Mo­laolwe said they were at times un­able to reach out to as many emerg­ing farm­ers as pos­si­ble be­cause of the vast­ness of the area.

The role of the con­fer­ence was for ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers to share sci­en­tific knowl­edge from dif­fer­ent as­pects with a key fo­cus of com­ing with a last­ing so­lu­tions which would ben­e­fit mostly farm­ers in their ar­eas.

“We are also here to come with a way for­ward which will as­sist us in ad­dress­ing the need we have as ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers also for our farm­ers,” Male­bogo Mochwiri said.

“This con­fer­ence will also help us to carry our day to day du­ties more ef­fec­tively and to be­come proac­tive in­stead re­ac­tive,” he said.

African Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa pro­vin­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive Se­hu­laro Se­hu­laro said as farm­ers they needed to work with the ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers closely so that some of their ba­sic needs could be ad­dressed.

“Farm­ing sec­tor is a busi­ness now, so ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers have got a piv­otal role to play in en­sur­ing that they as­sist farm­ers to run their day to day ac­tiv­i­ties and op­er­a­tions,” he said.

Se­hu­laro said the depart­ment needed to add more ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers be­cause the prov­ince is huge.

“We hop­ing that the gov­ern­ment will re­spond to our call to have as many ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers as pos­si­ble, their role as ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers is to advice us and we are in need of them,” he said.

MEC for agri­cul­ture, ru­ral de­vel­op­ment and land re­form Nor­man Shushu said drought was still a se­ri­ous con­cern to the prov­ince.

“Even though the Frances Baard dis­trict has re­ceived its post-har­vest rains in time the same can­not be said about drought which is af­flict­ing the Na­maqua dis­trict which has been de­clared a dis­as­ter area in the past.

“With Ex­ten­sion Sup­port be­ing agri­cul­tures ser­vice de­liv­ery be­drock, ours is to re­dou­ble our re­search ef­forts, has­ten our mar­ket in­tel­li­gence and re­main fo­cused in plac­ing agri­cul­ture on a pedestal of a promis­ing eco­nomic break­through.

“Agri­cul­tures con­tri­bu­tion as a pri­mary con­trib­u­tor to the na­tional fi­as­cos has ex­tri­cated us from our ear­lier tech­ni­cal re­ces­sion. These are good news to the sec­tor as it has the po­ten­tial to safe jobs and stim­u­late eco­nomic growth,” he said.

Shushu said key to ef­fec­tive man­age­ment of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in the sec­tor was the adop­tion of best agri­cul­tural prac­tices, Land Care prac­tices and dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion meth­ods.

“This will en­able our farm­ing com­mu­nity to avoid oc­cur­rence and mit­i­gate the im­pact of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters,” he said.

Shushu said a to­tal of 3 218 farm­ers re­ceived agri­cul­tural advice on var­i­ous as­pects of pro­duc­tion to im­prove their yield and in­come through farm­ers days, in­for­ma­tion days and demon­stra­tions, site vis­its and meet­ings.

“All this ex­ten­sion tech­niques aims at in­creas­ing the level of knowl­edge and skills of farm­ers to in­crease pro­duc­tion,” he said.

PIC­TURE: GETTY IMAGES

PIV­OTAL: Farm­ers say they need to work with the ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers so their needs can be ad­dressed.

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