Agri lead­ers hope­ful that un­cer­tainty will ease af­ter 2019 elec­tion

The agri­cul­ture sec­tor sur­vived a year of ris­ing un­cer­tainty in 2018, but with the na­tional elec­tion and the threat of drought loom­ing, 2019 will be ev­ery bit as chal­leng­ing. Ac­cord­ing to lead­ers in the sec­tor, farm­ers will have to be re­silient and partne

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Contents -

SENZENI ZOKWANA, Min­is­ter, De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries It is with great ex­cite­ment that we be­gin 2019. The De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries (DAFF) has much hope for the coun­try’s econ­omy as a whole, as well as for the agri­cul­ture sec­tor in par­tic­u­lar, thanks to the re­newed cer­tainty that has been un­fold­ing from gov­ern­ment since early last year.

The agri­cul­ture sec­tor suf­fered a huge set­back last year due to the im­pact of the drought, which sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected our coun­try’s GDP. This shows the crit­i­cal role that the sec­tor plays in South Africa’s econ­omy.

It would be re­miss of me to not briefly re­flect on the dis­course that has dom­i­nated much of 2018. I want to re­it­er­ate gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion that the pol­icy shift on land, es­pe­cially in re­la­tion to land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion, will not re­sult in the con­fis­ca­tion of com­mer­cial farms that are pro­duc­ing goods for our agro-food mar­kets. Food se­cu­rity for this coun­try is a fun­da­men­tal is­sue, but the is­sue of land re­dress is equally im­por­tant. It is in this re­gard that we urge all stake­hold­ers to fo­cus on work­able so­lu­tions as pro­posed by gov­ern­ment.

In terms of land re­form, DAFF is work­ing with pro­vin­cial de­part­ments to grow ca­pac­ity to be able to bet­ter re­spond with post-set­tle­ment sup­port to en­sure the suc­cess of land re­form ben­e­fi­cia­ries. But we need to forge part­ner­ships with the pub­lic sec­tor and men­tor­ship mech­a­nisms with es­tab­lished com­mer­cial farm­ers.

An­other con­cern is the high un­em­ploy­ment rate in the coun­try. Ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics South Africa, the un­em­ploy­ment rate among young peo­ple aged 15 to 34 is 38,2%, or 21 mil­lion peo­ple.

This means that more than one in ev­ery three young peo­ple are un­em­ployed. This poses a mas­sive chal­lenge for South Africa’s fu­ture.

We be­lieve the agri­cul­ture sec­tor can make a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion in em­ploy­ment cre­ation for young peo­ple. The sec­tor is un­der­go­ing dis­rup­tions oc­ca­sioned by the Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion, with new tech­nolo­gies re­plac­ing old meth­ods. How­ever, to suc­cess­fully tar­get the youth, there will have to be in­vest­ment in the sec­tor.

DAFF is in the process of fi­nal­is­ing the Draft Pol­icy on Com­pre­hen­sive Pro­ducer Devel­op­ment Sup­port. The pol­icy will be the over­all na­tional pol­icy frame­work for the agri­cul­ture, forestry and fish­eries sec­tors, and will guide the Cen­sus of Com­mer­cial Agri­cul­ture, which will run from 15 Oc­to­ber 2018 to June 2019. This will also as­sist us in es­tab­lish­ing an up-to-date frame of ref­er­ence for con­duct­ing sur­veys in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor, and help us to clearly un­der­stand the na­tional dis­tri­bu­tion of com­mer­cial and emerg­ing farm­ers and their per­for­mance.

We an­tic­i­pate a good year and con­sis­tent re­cov­ery of the sec­tor in its con­tri­bu­tion to the na­tional econ­omy. Hope for progress, de­spite un­cer­tainty DR JOHN PUR­CHASE, CEO, Ag­biz The year 2018 was an event­ful one, to say the least, es­pe­cially in the agribusi­ness sec­tor. Many chal­lenges came to the fore, such as land re­form, AgriBEE, job cre­ation, elec­tric­ity sup­ply, wa­ter avail­abil­ity and qual­ity, and un­cer­tainty in the in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment, to men­tion but a few. Un­doubt­edly, we will be en­ter­ing 2019 with a num­ber of these is­sues cre­at­ing un­cer­tainty, and they will re­quire our un­di­vided at­ten­tion.

At the end of a year dur­ing which the phrase ‘land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion’ was the most used phrase in the me­dia, the de­bates around the con­tentious is­sue of land re­form, par­tic­u­larly of land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion, re­main a key risk that could po­ten­tially un­der­mine in­vest­ment in the sec­tor if not han­dled well.

Or­derly, pre­dictable and mar­ket-based land re­form, within the am­bit of the cur­rent Con­sti­tu­tion of South Africa, is es­sen­tial to en­sure ten­ure se­cu­rity and busi­ness con­fi­dence, and to main­tain the in­tegrity of the agro-food sys­tem.

Al­though South Africa boasts a healthy and ro­bust agro-food in­dus­try, it could come un­der pres­sure in 2019. At the end of 2018, sen­ti­ment in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor re­mained sub­dued. How­ever, given the un­cer­tainty at the end of 2017 re­gard­ing many un­re­solved is­sues, great strides have been made in 2018, and many of these is­sues are in the process of be­ing re­solved through, amongst oth­ers, the Zondo Com­mis­sion of En­quiry into State Cap­ture and the

Nu­gent Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into the South African Rev­enue Ser­vice.

With the chal­lenges of greater un­cer­tainty, less con­trol, and greater risk, more op­por­tu­ni­ties present them­selves. I urge the agri­cul­ture and agribusi­ness fra­ter­ni­ties to iden­tify and ex­ploit these op­por­tu­ni­ties, and to con­tinue work­ing smart and plan­ning ahead to en­sure that we man­age the set­backs brought about by these chal­lenges as best we can.

Thank you to the agribusi­ness and agri­cul­ture fam­ily for their con­tin­ued sup­port through­out 2018, and I wish you all a pros­per­ous 2019.

A year of big is­sues looms for agri­cul­ture

DR THEO DE JAGER, pres­i­dent, World Farm­ers’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion This year prom­ises to be an ex­cit­ing one for agri­cul­ture. In South Africa, pol­i­tics will dom­i­nate our dis­course and destiny, es­pe­cially in the run up to the na­tional elec­tion, with the de­bate around land and ex­pro­pri­a­tion likely to heat up as elec­tion day ap­proaches.

On the in­ter­na­tional front, there are new de­vel­op­ments and ini­tia­tives that will also im­pact on how we go about our busi­ness, and 2019 might well be crunch time for some of those is­sues.

The UN’s Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion has de­cided to launch a Decade of Fam­ily Farm­ing in 2019. One of the goals of this ini­tia­tive is to counter the global phe­nom­e­non of cor­po­rati­sa­tion of pri­mary pro­duc­tion, where large com­pa­nies farm huge tracts of land in com­pe­ti­tion with smaller fam­ily farm­ers, killing ru­ral towns and knock­ing the smaller farm­ers out of the in­dus­try in the process.

Fam­ily farm­ing is one of the most broad-based mech­a­nisms to cre­ate wealth where it is needed most: ru­ral ar­eas.

The other big event for agri­cul­ture in 2019 will be the Cli­mak­ers Cam­paign, a farmer-driven agenda on cli­mate change, which was launched at COP24 in Ka­tow­ice, Poland, in De­cem­ber 2018. The cam­paign cen­tres on an­swer­ing these two ques­tions: what can farm­ers do to mit­i­gate and adapt to cli­mate change?; and what would farm­ers need to do it?

The third is­sue that has the po­ten­tial to dis­rupt the well-be­ing of global agri­cul­ture is the fu­ture of trade un­der US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s rule. Whether called a po­ten­tial trade war or not, the first shots have cer­tainly been fired, and ca­su­al­ties, such as the pork in­dus­try in the US, can’t be avoided. At the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos early in 2019, farm­ers will take a stand on the im­pact of trade con­flicts on the liveli­hoods of those who pro­duce per­ish­able goods, and we hope to bring some sta­bil­ity to the dis­course on agri­cul­tural trade. We need to con­vince politi­cians not to use our prod­ucts as ba­tons to fight each other when they dis­agree on is­sues that have noth­ing to do with agri­cul­ture.

To have the voices of farm­ers heard, we need strong farm­ers’ or­gan­i­sa­tions, and broader in­volve­ment of in­di­vid­ual farm­ers. The par­tic­i­pa­tion of each and ev­ery farmer is thus vi­tal.

May you be blessed on the lit­tle piece of the planet that was en­trusted to your care, and may it re­ward you and your fam­ily with a prof­itable and sus­tain­able liveli­hood!

Sup­port and in­no­va­tive think­ing needed

LOUIS MEINTJIES, pres­i­dent, TAU SA Each new year brings fresh op­por­tu­ni­ties that should be em­braced. Tak­ing hold of these op­por­tu­ni­ties gives us a sense of pur­pose and hope for the fu­ture.

Given the harsh re­al­i­ties we cur­rently face in South Africa, many peo­ple are ask­ing whether there are still op­por­tu­ni­ties worth pur­su­ing in this coun­try. The fu­ture seems dark and un­cer­tain, and as a re­sult, many South Africans, who find them­selves in a po­si­tion to do so, are leav­ing the coun­try. For many of us, this is sim­ply not pos­si­ble, and those of us who stay will have to work to­gether to en­sure that there is a fu­ture for all South Africans.

As farm­ers, we are rooted in South Africa, but the re­al­ity we are faced with is that the ANC has placed party above coun­try, and its ac­tions are aimed solely at sav­ing the ANC no mat­ter the cost.

Over and above the tur­bu­lent po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, farm­ers also face the threat of drought, poor wa­ter qual­ity, and un­re­li­able and ex­pen­sive elec­tric­ity sup­ply. Some farm­ers have not had rain for the past three years, and have suf­fered re­peated poor har­vests. For them it has be­come im­pos­si­ble to carry on. Banks and in­put sup­pli­ers that have prof­ited from these farm­ers in the past have now with­drawn to the side­lines, be­com­ing mere spec­ta­tors to their suf­fer­ing.

What will hap­pen if those farm­ers in the drought-stricken ar­eas of Mpumalanga, the Free State, North West and Lim­popo are forced to give up their farms? What will hap­pen to South Africa when there are no com­mer­cial farm­ers left? Where will the banks and agri­cul­tural in­put sup­pli­ers go to find clients? How will these busi­nesses sur­vive? Cer­tainly not by ser­vic­ing the sub­sis­tence farm­ing sec­tor only! Who will grow the food that has to feed 60 mil­lion South Africans and peo­ple in other African coun­tries?

We need farm­ers to re­main on their farms and to con­tinue farm­ing. The op­por­tu­nity we have at this un­cer­tain time is to look at the pri­mary agri­cul­ture sec­tor and the en­tire agri­cul­tural value chain through a new lens. What do we want the pri­mary agri­cul­ture sec­tor to look like by 2030? We hold the fu­ture of farm­ing and food se­cu­rity in our hands, and to­gether we have to es­tab­lish a new dis­pen­sa­tion char­ac­terised by in­no­va­tive think­ing and so­lu­tions.

TAU SA has al­ready started im­ple­ment­ing this new ap­proach and

our doors are open to any­one who be­lieves that we can be the cap­tains of our own fu­ture by adopt­ing a fresh ap­proach to cre­ate a safe and se­cure, as well as eco­nom­i­cally sus­tain­able, op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment for farm­ers.

We will con­tinue to pray for wis­dom, in­sight and strength.

Farm­ers will per­se­vere

DAN KRIEK, pres­i­dent, Agri SA I be­lieve 2018 can best be de­scribed as an emo­tional roller­coaster for farm­ers. The mas­sive un­cer­tainty un­leashed by the ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion (EWC) process had a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on in­vestor and busi­ness con­fi­dence. The sen­ti­ment on the ground among those who are against and those who sup­port changes to the Con­sti­tu­tion alike has be­come un­healthy and, in some cases, ir­ra­tional and racially po­larised.

The out­come of in­creased frus­tra­tion about the slow progress of land re­form on one side, and mas­sive un­cer­tainty on the other, was al­ways go­ing to be a hard­en­ing of at­ti­tudes. In the ab­sence of mean­ing­ful in­ter­ven­tion, sit­u­a­tions like these could lead to a stand­off and, heaven for­bid, a show­down. We thus need vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship on all sides to break the dead­lock and get peo­ple talk­ing about so­lu­tions.

We must give due credit to the ANC lead­er­ship for ini­ti­at­ing mean­ing­ful di­a­logue with or­gan­ised agri­cul­ture and agribusi­ness. Agri SA par­tic­i­pated in top-level dis­cus­sions on the pos­si­ble im­pact of EWC on pro­duc­tive agri­cul­tural land and ways to en­hance sus­tain­able land re­form. The pri­vate sec­tor will play a key role.

Even the worst sit­u­a­tions have sil­ver lin­ings. The heated EWC de­bate in­evitably made way for dis­cus­sions on what the al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions should be. Politi­cians, pol­i­cy­mak­ers and civil­ians will have to ac­knowl­edge the ef­fect that EWC will have on the econ­omy. Any neg­a­tive im­pact on land prices will have def­i­nite neg­a­tive con­se­quences for food se­cu­rity and fu­ture eco­nomic growth. Ul­ti­mately, we do not take our as­sur­ances from politi­cians. Our civil lib­er­ties are en­shrined in the Bill of Rights and should be rig­or­ously pro­tected. Giv­ing prop­erty rights to those not yet priv­i­leged enough to en­joy it will be the great­est em­pow­er­ment ex­er­cise this coun­try has ever seen.

While this whole de­bate is rag­ing, or­di­nary farm­ers are go­ing about their daily task of pro­duc­ing food, fuel and fi­bre. They do so in times of hard­ship and tribu­la­tion; they pro­duce on pri­vate land, state land, leased land and in com­mu­nal land ten­ure sys­tems; they come in all shapes and sizes; they suf­fer be­cause of vi­o­lence and crime and are forced to re­sort to ex­tra­or­di­nary mea­sures to pro­tect them­selves, their loved ones and their be­long­ings; and they pro­duce for a global mar­ket with very lit­tle gov­ern­ment sup­port. Our farm­ers are pro­gres­sive and un­der­stand the need for sus­tain­able land re­form and trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tives. The real de­bate should be on how we en­able and cre­ate mean­ing­ful part­ner­ships in de­vel­op­ing the agri­cul­ture sec­tor on an in­clu­sive and sus­tain­able ba­sis.

This year will be a year of choices. We will go to the polls to elect our “freely elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives”. May we strengthen our democ­racy in a peace­ful and or­derly man­ner, and may we reaf­firm the val­ues en­shrined in our Con­sti­tu­tion. I be­lieve that we will find so­lu­tions to our prob­lems in calmer waters af­ter the na­tional elec­tion.

A glim­mer of hope

DR VUYO MAHLATI, pres­i­dent, African Farm­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa As we bid farewell to 2018, there is one word that springs to mind: re­silience! The re­silience of farm­ers, of the agri­cul­ture sec­tor and of the agri­cul­tural econ­omy were ap­par­ent. How­ever, black farm­ers con­tinue to face stum­bling blocks as they strive to grow to feed their house­holds and con­trib­ute to na­tional and house­hold food se­cu­rity. De­spite this, they con­tinue to play their part to be counted as play­ers in the main­stream econ­omy. Their ef­forts to suc­ceed also in­crease their ex­po­sure to the fail­ures of agri­cul­ture-re­lated sys­tems, which risks un­der­min­ing their hard work. These in­clude ex­ten­sion ser­vices, train­ing cen­tres, land, wa­ter, mar­kets and ac­cess to fi­nance. The African Farm­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa (AFASA) is thus de­ter­mined to con­tinue push­ing for the trans­for­ma­tion of the agri­cul­ture sec­tor as part and par­cel of the broader agrar­ian re­form gov­ern­ment poli­cies pro­mote. AFASA‘s se­cond Agribusi­ness Trans­for­ma­tion Con­fer­ence, which took place in 2018 and fo­cused on value chain in­te­gra­tion and farm­ing as part of the Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion, suc­ceeded in pro­mot­ing smart part­ner­ships be­tween in­vestors and landown­ers and amongst farm­ers them­selves. This glimpse of hope gives us courage to push for­ward.

As South Africa em­barked on the del­i­cate, and ago­nis­ing, but in­evitably long-stand­ing, is­sue of land re­form with Par­lia­men­tary pub­lic hear­ings on ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion, the lead­er­ship shown by var­i­ous farm­ers’ or­gan­i­sa­tions through their joint state­ment on 27 Au­gust 2018 is com­mend­able.

An­other show of re­silience was the GDP growth in the third quar­ter of 2018 fol­low­ing a slump in the first two quar­ters. Dur­ing the con­clu­sion of the 2018 plant­ing sea­son, we saw how cli­mate change con­tin­ues to be a re­al­ity. To ad­dress the chal­lenge of chang­ing weather pat­terns, AFASA will put in place a con­trib­u­tory in­surance scheme to cover qual­i­fy­ing in­vestors and, most im­por­tantly, the farm­ing com­mu­nity. In 2019, AFASA will aim to im­prove the per­for­mance of black farm­ers by pro­mot­ing the mod­erni­sa­tion and im­prove­ment of farm­ing sys­tems through the in­tro­duc­tion of im­proved tech­nolo­gies and ef­fi­cient use and man­age­ment of land. To­gether we can and we shall!

Farmer’s Weekly.

The views ex­pressed in our weekly opin­ion piece do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect those of

From left: Senzeni Zokwana John Pur­chase Dr Theo de Jager Louis Mein­t­jes Dan Kriek Dr Vuyo Mahlati

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