Promote farming among youth: Zuma

By Drum Digital
07 March 2013

President Jacob Zuma urged traditional leaders on Thursday to work with the government to promote farming among the youth and the rural population.

Opening the National House of Traditional Leaders at Parliament, he said the National Development Plan (NDP) indicated that 30 years from now South Africa would be mostly urban.

Rural areas would be abandoned as the youth migrated to the cities in search of greener pastures.

Migration to the cities would leave the arable and fertile land lying fallow. Such a prospect would definitely threaten South Africa's food security.

"We are already witnesses to this phenomenon. Many fields lie untilled across the country. The NDP identifies agriculture as an economic activity that is still capable of pushing back the frontiers of poverty.

"This requires traditional leaders to work with government to promote farming to our youth and the rural population," he said.

Years of land deprivation, reinforced by land dispossession laws, had deprived generations of people of the skills necessary to survive from agriculture.

"People who had been proud farmers were now forced to work after being dispossessed of their land, livestock and equipment. Working on the farms was thus turned into a form of slavery."

The outcome of this state of affairs over generations was that the youth developed a grim view of agriculture.

Those living in rural areas aspired to move out of the villages as soon as they could.

"We need to change the situation. We need to make them appreciate the economic importance and centrality of agriculture.

"We must encourage them to study agricultural and food production sciences at school and universities."

Zuma said both secondary and tertiary education institutions had to respond to this challenge and appropriately channel resources.

-by Sapa

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