New farmers needed for future development of KZN’S agriculture
INCREASING the number of entrants to Kwazulu-natal’s agricultural industry is key to the province’s growth and job creation, according to the KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development spokesperson, Phathisa Mfuyo.
KZN produced almost 30 percent of national agricultural output.
Suitable natural resources in KZN gave the province a comparative advantage in agriculture as 4.5 million hectares was suitable for livestock production and 1.5 million hectares was arable.
Livestock production contributed close to 47 percent of total KZN agricultural value. It was estimated that about 316 000 hectares of the arable land in the communal areas were currently under-utilised, Mfuyo said.
The department said previously disadvantaged (black emerging) farmers at small-holder level in the sector continued to face severe structural constraints that had resulted in the stagnation or decline of agricultural enterprises.
“These constraints include, among others, relatively high production costs, inadequate access to funding for new capital development and maintenance of infrastructure, and inappropriate land and water usage.”
These challenges had seen the sector facing a decline in production, a continued decline in agricultural employment, low levels of competitiveness and a negative impact on food security.
“The future development of the agricultural sector in the province will be premised on the transformation and promotion of previously disadvantaged producers and their inclusion in the agricultural mainstream economy,” Mfuyo said.
Mfuyo said the department had a team of world-class researchers who were producing new knowledge in crop, livestock and natural resource management spread across its research stations, while their colleges were producing new graduates to help ensure farmers gained greater insight into their chosen commodities and the value-chain as a whole.