Group outlines challenges for farming industry

2010-07-06 00:00

THE agricultural industry in South Africa is grappling with many challenges and the government needs to make significant investments in order to improve the competitiveness of the sector, says farming body AgriSA.

In an interview with The Witness yesterday, Johan Pienaar, the deputy executive director of AgriSA, outlined the challenges that are affecting the industry, including the chaotic land reform process, the lack of government subsidies for farmers, inadequate research and poor rural infrastructure.

He said the lack of subsidies is the main problem because this severely affects farmers’competitiveness in the global markets.

“In organisations such as the European Union and in countries such as China, farmers are heavily subsidised by their governments, which gives them a competitive edge.

“This allows them to produce at a surplus, which in turn leads to depressed market prices, which does not allow us to compete effectively.”

Pienaar said that in sectors such as wheat production, government intervention has become necessary because the situation has become dire and the government needs to protect the industry.

He added that the controversial land reform process has made balancing the need to comply with its requirements with the need for production nearly impossible.

“Land restitution has been a big failure. The handing over of agricultural land to people who have never farmed before is crippling the industry as many of those farms have collapsed and that has put the farming industry in a precarious position.”

Pienaar also pointed out that research in the agricultural sector had been lagging behind in SA compared to many other countries.

 

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