'Talk less, do more', young Gauteng farmer tells govt

2015-10-01 21:51
Katlego Meso at the public meeting in Munsieville hosted by Gauteng Premier David Makhura to discuss problems with service delivery. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Katlego Meso at the public meeting in Munsieville hosted by Gauteng Premier David Makhura to discuss problems with service delivery. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Johannesburg - Government needs to do less talking and more doing when it comes to supporting emerging black farmers, a young vegetable farmer from Krugersdorp told Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Thursday.

Makhura was hosting a public meeting to discuss problems relating to service delivery in Munsieville township and surrounding areas in Mogale City.

Katlego Meso, 27, has been farming vegetables for close to five years and runs Katlego Malesa Farming Industries in Tarlton, Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg.

He owns 25 hectares and employs six people. He intends on employing another 34 once his business is running at full capacity.

On Thursday, he told those in attendance that he was struggling to obtain a water licence that would permit him to legally irrigate his land, and that the implements provided to farmers arrived too late for the ploughing season.

"My main concern is that the tractors that government has bought for local communities and local farmers, they don't get to us on time and hence we can't plant and harvest and make money so that we can pay people, so they can have a living.

"So if the implements don't get to us on time, we cannot make money."

He told Makhura and Mogale City Executive Mayor Koketso Seerane that he had already invested R300 000 of his own money into the business, but was struggling to realise his dream, due to the financial burdens of the business.

"I have implements which are just in disarray, I have workers. I have land, I just need serious government interventions so I can provide plus minus 40 permanent jobs, giving a solution to this uphill battle of poverty that we are all facing."

He said he was still willing to invest more into the business if government also played its part and assisted him.

'Young people must be in farming'

Economic, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Lebogang Maile told Meso that he was not the first farmer to complain about the late arrival of farming inputs and implements. The department was already working on addressing the matter, he said.

Instead of opening up a tender for implements on a yearly basis, they would now sign three-year contracts with suppliers to create more consistency.

The department was also looking at better ways to address the tractor shortages and maintenance, Maile said.

"Because it is not our core business, we are going to get people who own such [tractors] to service farmers because, in most cases, we might not be able to give a farmer his own tractor."

Regarding access to water, Maile told Meso that only the national department of water affairs had the authority to issue water rights licences.

He commended Meso for pursuing farming at a young age and urged others to do the same.

"You look young. I'm very happy. Young people must be in farming," he said.

"It's very important because farming has got an important role to play in our economy. It has an important role to play in helping us fight poverty."

Maile also commended Meso for investing in the business with his own money.

"It's a good thing. We want you to do that. But you are also reasonable in saying you want us to provide a conducive environment, because that is our job and that's what we are going to do."

Read more on:    david makhura  |  johannesburg  |  farming

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