Farmers’ issues addressed at summit

2019-10-30 06:00

Commonage farmers in the Free State faced complex challenges ranging from access to water, policies and adhering to by-laws as well as regulate commonage land.

These issues were highlighted during the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s launch of the Provincial Commonage Summit held on 10 October in Bloemspruit.

The commonage summit aims at bringing together commonage farmers and municipalities to address issues faced by these farmers and to give inputs on policies that will help municipalities to develop by-laws to regulate, control and protect the use of municipal land leased land to commonage farmers.

Zimasa Leputla, head of the communications of the department, said through the commonage summit the department was seeking to protect commonage farmers, mostly livestock owners as they are at primary level of farming.

Livestock include cattle, goats and sheep whose owners struggle to find grazing land.

Through the provincial summit small-scale farmers are afforded the chance to give inputs on daily challenges they face as commonage farmers.

Challenges range from safe facilities, health of livestock and handling of the livestock among others.

To address the issue of animal health, the department would offer appreciate services for animal health through animal technicians who on the day of the launch provided services to livestock owners.

The provincial online producer/farmer register system will be utilised as a tool to collect accurate information on farming activities in the province in order to track the impact of agricultural support as well as to inform better planning and decision-making process.

Pule Moeketsi, a commonage farmer from Hoopstad, said among challenges they face, relate to access to water and land for grazing, prevalent crime relating to stock theft.

He highlighted that the inability to access land hindered the ability for small scale farmers to expand and for sustainability.

Badirile Ngonela, a livestock farmer said the registry would help the department and the farmers.

“The system will make trading easier amongst farmers. We will be able to know who sells what and be able to compare price and quality,” said Ngonela.

By-laws would help to regulate and control the use and protection of commonage land and the types of stock which may be pastured, restrict the number of stock per owner, restrict or prohibit the use of certain of the council’s land for pasturage and prescribe appropriate charges.

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