Government neglecting new farmers, says sugar cane champion

2010-12-02 00:00

THE lack of government support in the farming industry continues to frustrate many emerging farmers who feel neglected, despite the solid contributions that the industry is making to the economy.

“We are just things that have been thrown away that the government does not care for,” said Moses Gumede, an emerging sugar cane farmer from Eshowe.

Gumede (48) recently won the Toyota New Harvest competition, which recognises emerging farmers.

The competition is aimed at individuals who have owned or operated a farm for at least five years and who overcame a disadvantaged background to become a successful farmer, according to Toyota.

This is exactly what Gumede has done, because his sugarcane farm produces more than 895 tons of sucrose annually.

He won a single-cab Toyota Hilux.

Gumede, who worked as an extension officer for the Agriculture Department for 21 years, has been a farmer for eight years.

Andrew Kirby, senior vice president, sales and marketing, at Toyota SA, said Gumede impressed the panel of judges with his ability to use the resources available to him responsibly while observing sound farming practices.

He was recognised for his scientific approach to planting his trial crops and measuring yields for future production.

Already his farm has increased its turnover from R1,2 million in the first year to R4,2 million in the current year. Gumede says his ultimate goal is to see production increase and the R4,2 million turnover doubled in the next few years.

He upstaged farmers in sugar cane, beef and maize among other sectors, in the Toyota New Harvest Emerging Farmers of the Year competition.

He said his success came in the face of daunting challenges, chief among them being the lack of resources and government support.

Gumede told The Witness he said the agricultural industry, which is the basis of the economy, is being ignored by the government.

“When I started, I did not have any resources and the government support was non-existent. I did not even get a bag of fertiliser from the government.”

Gumede said the neglect is crushing the sector. “As emerging farmers, we believe the government should support us.”

 

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