Farmers seek help abroad

2012-10-29 00:00

BLACK farmers are looking to foreign countries for farming assistance, claiming that the South African government has failed to provide meaningful support for their ventures.

Dr Mandla Buthelezi, of the KZN branch of the National African Farmers’ Union, said he was visiting other countries, including Indonesia, this week to solicit support for emerging black farmers. He did not specify what kind of support they would be looking for.

Buthelezi said the government was still failing to support the industry.

“As black farmers, we have been struggling for many years without any government support or any bank support, and that is why we are looking at other countries for support.”

He said the situation had become so bad that many farms that had been given to land claimants had been rented back to white farmers because the claimants could not manage them.

“When we are given land, the previous farmer takes everything, including tractors, so when we get there, it’s just land; there is no transfer of skills.

“In cases where the emerging farmer survives long enough to plant, they encounter another impediment, that there is no market for our food. Even the government, which should be supporting us by buying our produce, does not do so,” said Buthelezi.

Steve Galane, spokesperson of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department, said they were not aware of any emerging farmers looking for assistance from international communities.

“The government has several initiatives that are aimed at helping the emerging farmers to become successful commercial farmers.”

He said there was nothing in law that prevented the farmers from looking abroad for further assistance. Previously it had been reported that white commercial farmers were leaving South Africa to begin farming operations in countries including Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, and Mozambique.

They cited new laws, the unionisation of farm workers, expensive water, electricity and other necessities, a shrinking supply of arable land, and the threat of land reform as reasons why farming in SA is becoming unsustainable.

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