New focus on farm security - minister

Bloemfontein - The government bemoans every farm killing and would tackle the problem in every province, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said on Tuesday.

"It is not just the killing of a white farmer but also (that of) the workers we condemn," Joemat-Pettersson told a gathering of black and white commercial farmers at Senekal in the Free State.

Joemat-Pettersson said the murder of white farmers should not be labelled race crimes as this was not the case. She said farmers were isolated in rural areas and were easy targets.

Joemat-Pettersson said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa would soon visit every province in the country to fine-tune a rural safety strategy.

She was visiting the Makolobane Farmers Enterprise at Senekal, belonging to successful black commercial farmer Pitso Sekhoto, during the farm's apple harvesting.

The minister participated in the harvest and used the opportunity to discuss agriculture issues with local farmers.

Land reform success

The event was also used to celebrate a case of land reform success. She said the department was planning similar events to showcase the establishment of a successful black-owned commercial farm in every province.

The minister stressed that the government did not want white commercial farmers to leave the country.

"If they leave a skills and knowledge package, built up over years, is leaving the country."

She said other African countries recognised South African farmers' skills and hoped to attract them, but added: "We want to keep them."

Joemat-Pettersson said the government was worried about the Vaal River flooding agricultural land and considered declaring disaster areas. Other rivers in flood were being monitored closely.

"We have managed the Orange River well over the past week," she said


New bill won’t stimulate farm jobs

New laws on the security of land tenure and the eviction of farm workers will not encourage farmers to employ more workers according to Agri SA president Johannes Moller.

He says that while agriculture can increase employment, meeting some of the targets of the government’s new economic growth strategy, the reality is that the new laws will actually inhibit employment growth.

He says the government has conceded that the Extension of Security of Tenure Act of 1997 and the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act of 1996 swung the balance of these laws in favour of workers by making evictions difficult to achieve.

“Farmers are now reluctant to employ people who could then claim protection under the Security of Tenure Act,” he says.

Moller says he does not believe that the new draft Land Tenure Security bill – which will replace the two existing Acts – would change the situation.

He says evictions will still be difficult, time-consuming and costly to obtain, as these evictions would have to follow strict procedures involving a court order and a period of notice even when the courts justified the eviction.

“Farmers will still be very wary of hiring new employees and will take into account the policy and economic implications of hiring new workers,” Moller says.

“Government should be promoting job opportunities in the agricultural sector, which has the capacity to employ more people,” he says.

The bill proposes that the right to stay on a farm should be linked to legitimate employment covered by the terms of the Labour Relations Act. A worker who was fairly dismissed would lose the right to live on the farm as well.

SA farmers set sights on Moz

Johannesburg - More South African farmers expect to receive land offers in Mozambique as they seek to expand across Africa amid uncertainty over land reform at home, an official from a mostly white farmers group said on Monday.

Farmers' group Agri SA Deputy president Theo de Jager said the Mozambique government had offered more land to lease to South African farmers to grow grains, sugar for bio-fuels as well as for livestock farming.

South Africa - Africa's biggest economy - has one of the most developed agricultural sectors on the continent and its farmers are looking to expand into other countries. Some 800 South African farmers are already farming in Mozambique.

“We expect that in the Gaza province, another 600 farmers would establish themselves. The farmers who are there are mostly medium-scale farmers and the others would be large-scale farmers,” De Jager told Reuters in an interview.

He said the additional farmers were expected to start farming in Mozambique by May next year.

South African farmers have so far received land offers from 22 African countries, with Congo offering one of the biggest land deals on the continent.

The Congo deal is part of its plan to improve food security by allowing South African farmers to lease land for up to 105 years to farm maize, soya beans, poultry and dairy.

The deal, which was expected to be concluded by the end of last month, faced some delays.

“We had a bit of a hold up with the finalisation of the individual contracts between farmers and (Congo's) department of agriculture, but we got the final template for the contract,” De Jager said.


Agriculture investment in South Africa has slowed due to the uncertainty over land reforms meant to hand over 30 percent of farm land to the country's black majority by 2014.

The programme has caused unease as white commercial farmers are unsure whether to reinvest in farms under claim by blacks, while foreign investors have been wary of proposals to limit overseas land ownership.

“In all our discussions with the Europeans, Americans and even with the Brazilians, they are all waiting to see what will pan out with the green paper on land reform,” De Jager said.

The government said last year it had managed to transfer 6 percent of land to blacks and said it will introduce new ways to speed up the process.

De Jager added the farmers' group had made good progress in its land deals talks with Gabon and Cameroon and that some farmers had started producing crops in Egypt. - Reuters 

Olivia Kumwenda

Black farmers must 'stop fighting

Bloemfontein - South Africa needs a strong National African Farmers Union that will do things differently and smartly, the Minister for Agriculture said on Wednesday night.

"We need a strong NAFU in each province in this country," she told hundreds of emerging farmers gathered at the National African Farmers' Convention.

Some 1 500 emerging farmers from across the country were expected at the two-day convention that will decide on the future of the National African Farmers Union of South Africa (NAFU-SA) at the University of the Free State.

Joemat-Pettersson urged for unity amongst the delegates and said they could not "ignore" leaders.

She also told the delegates there would not be a new structure "parallel" with Nafu and that the organisation should "put their fights behind them".

"There is only one Nafu, which must bring together all subsistence and small holder farmers in the country." Joemat-Pettersson said.

While NAFU fought over leadership and other issues, similar organisations were going forward and leaving them behind.

"The time for planning is over, the time for complaining is over and we have a good idea what the problems are, we need solutions and answers."

The minister said her department was ready to work together with the small and emergent farmers while they also had the goodwill of white farmers who wanted to help.

Joemat-Pettersson said government was focusing on access to finance, markets and skills in regard to emerging farmers to help with job creation and access to the agro-processing industry.

The national facilitator of the Nafu-SA revitalisation project, Aggrey Mahanjana, said the main problems faced by Nafu before the convention related to leadership and finances.

The convention followed "diagnostic and revitalisation" consultative meetings in all 52 district municipal areas in South Africa with emerging farmers over the past eight months.

Emerging farmers at the meetings decided there was an urgent need to transform Nafu-SA into an effective lobbying and advocacy group.

A new constitution, structure and a five-point strategic plan, to turn around Nafu-SA, were also discussed.

The convention ends on Friday.

Nkwinti: Black farmers must speak out

Bloemfontein - South Africa needs to hear from black commercial farmers who are passionate about what they do, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Saturday.

"We want to hear that often," Nkwinti told a gathering of black farmers and officials at a Red Meat Pilot Project in the Free State.

The event followed eleven partnership agreements formalised between eleven black Free State farmers and the Bloemfontein Abattoir.

The project entailed providing cattle to the farmer and then helping them to become fully commercial red meat producers within the red meat value chain.

The project fell under the department's recapitalisation programme, aiming to increasing agricultural production, to guarantee food security, to stimulate job creation and to graduate small scale farmers to commercial farmers in the agricultural sector.

'Not talking, but doing'

The farmers would run their red meat production arms under the eye of the department and Bloemfontein Abattoir.

Nkwinti said the success of the programme would be confirmed when black commercial farmers could "stand alone".

The minister warned that establishing black commercial farmers was not a "talking thing" but "a doing thing, a farming thing, a business thing".

Free State farmer Pitso Sekhoto, speaking on behalf of the 11 farmers involved in the project declared proudly that he was now a proper commercial farmer.

"I am proud to say I am a South African commercial farmer, I can compete with any farmer of any colour now."

Sekhoto said he received some R9m from the government to buy a Free State farm and he developed it to its current worth of an estimated R16m.

When to 'stop emerging'

He supplied milk to Woolworths and apples to fresh produce markets in Gauteng. He also bred cattle.

"We need to stand up as farmers because we as commercial farmers still need the help of government," he said.

He urged emergent black farmers to "make things happen".

"They sit and do nothing. Go out and make things happen," he said, adding that he did not leave the corporate world to come and relax on his farm.

"I want to make a success, I want to be judged on what I do."

Free State MEC for rural development Fezi Ngubentombi said government liked emergent farmers to say they were not emerging anymore.

"It must stop somewhere."

She commended black farmers for moving forward and not waiting around for government money.

Agricultural News

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /usr/www/users/mdfaco/modules/mod_feed/helper.php on line 46
The Home Of Great South African News
SA Good News

Who's Online

We have 59 guests online