Political and economic prospects for 2017

2017-01-09 11:49

The general agricultural outlook at the end of 2016 is much better than a year ago, especially as far as the production of maize and other summer crops are concerned. Grazing was restored very well in those areas that were blessed with good rains. Some areas in the country did unfortunately not received any rain but the hope that the Good Giver will still provide adequate rain for the whole country will prevail.

The improved outlook can directly be attributed to the positive change in the climate and that it will hopefully not become the biggest threat to food security in 2017 again. This, however, will undoubtedly come from the government with its unaffordable and devastating political and economic policy.

This policy was mainly responsible for virtually no economic growth over the past year, an eventual inevitable downgrading of the sovereign and credit rating of the country, unprecedented mismanagement of taxpayers' money, a total unsuccessful land reform policy and rampant corruption. The government's crippling transformation policy for South Africa as a developing country will also further transform the country during 2017 into an underdeveloped country as in the rest of Africa with just as much degeneration, famine and poverty.

The government has clearly turned its back on the agriculture in 2016. Not only as far as the commercial production of food is concerned but also with regards to the development and establishment of emerging farmers. The commercial agriculture has not received any drought aid after the worst drought in decades, while the utilisation of the assistance given to emerging producers can be regarded as highly suspicion. More than half of the drought aid budgeted in the Minister of Finance's medium-term expenditure framework in October, was channelled to another government department which wasn’t related to drought assistance for emerging farmers. There should also be no doubt that the government will again walk away from the agriculture in 2017.

The government's drastic interference in the economy with new legislation and the review of almost all the previous legislation, which was instituted since 1994 but which failed to achieve the required objectives of poverty alleviation, unemployment and inequality, will bring new challenges and pose serious threats to the agriculture in 2017. Especially as far as this legislation is related to the equal distribution of wealth, land reform, water use and security of tenure.

The revision of this legislation could have been much more beneficial for the country if it instead focused on how it could have created economic growth for the country, but it is mainly aimed at trying to keep the ruling party in power at the expense of any other development and prosperity for the country and its people. Most of the radical economic transformation initiatives that the government offer for its supporters is simply a hijacking of the economy by the corrupt ANC elite and their cronies.

The operation of market forces will once again be rejected by the government and will result in further serious threats to the financial survival of farmers. Mainly because the government finds itself totally in the darkness and clearly doesn’t understand how economic growth is driven and created in the first place and secondly, that food security can only be sustainable if production of food is profitable, which is also a prerequisite in all the other industries in the economy.

The economic prospects for agriculture will not improve in 2017 if the government and specifically the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries don’t get serious about the sustainable commercial production of food and don’t take decisive steps to promote and protect it against unfair foreign competition and natural disasters. The time has also come that the organised agriculture should make drastic efforts against the government's political onslaught and economic threats to the agriculture with a common vision and mission for a profitable and sustainable commercial agriculture. Otherwise the political and economic outlook for the agriculture will not improve in 2017.

The latest threatening political onslaught emerging from the working class on the future existence of capitalism and the subsequent establishment of communism in the country should not be underestimated. It will eventually deprive the economy totally of a profit motive and will therefore rob the country of any further economic development and prosperity. In such a scenario, any positive outlook for economic growth will quickly disappear and be hampered while the general welfare that still exists in the country will only be further and faster distributed and digested

Fanie Brink - Independent Agricultural Economist


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