Market knowledge explored
Water scarcity in the rural region of John Taolo Gaetsewe has a negative impact on work that farmers are doing
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.
PIVOTAL: Farmers say they need to work with the extension officers so their needs can be addressed.