‘Govt’s abandoned us’ — black farmers

2016-05-30 11:23


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Pietermaritzburg - The Black Farmers Association has accused the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of setting back the progress of land redistribution.

The association has also warned that the next generation will sell back the land if the department continues to keep emerging farmers in the “cold”.

The association which represents over 200 farmers in Pietermaritzburg who were given back land by government, said the current administration in the department had taken away tractors and other basic irrigation tools that had been given to the small scale farmers and co-operatives by the previous administration.

“They just told us that there was a 50:50 policy in place now which means that we must contribute 50% of whatever money those tractors were bought with.

“But the issue here is that we were given all those facilities before that policy was signed. Another thing is, most of our members are poor and cannot afford those machines,” said Nhlanhla Shange, from the association.

The association also accused the department’s MEC Cyril Xaba of failing to deliver on promises he had allegedly made to the association.

“He had promised us a potato harvester when we had a meeting with him in April 2015. As I am speaking to you now, three hectares of potatoes are rotting underground; we do not have the potato harvester,” said the association’s Nhlanhla Shange.

Shange said Xaba had also promised to give back all the equipment that was taken away from the association and had committed to meet the association.

“Since then we have heard nothing from him and we have repeatedly written and tried to contact him for months without any success,” he said.

“This tells you that the MEC just lied to our faces. What kind of an MEC does that?” asked Sipho Dumakude, the association’s secretary.

Dumakude said many of the association members have had piggery business plans that have been approved by the department for more than three years, but nothing has happened since.

“EIAs have been done by consultants who come at high costs, but the department keeps on making us run around.

“We do not know who to turn to. We are not burning any tyres, we are just trying to have a civil conversation with the department.

“The previous owners of the land are laughing at us because the government they had in place while they were owning these farms, invested in agriculture,”said Dumakude.

Repeated attempts to get a comment from the department’s spokesperson Lelethu Manentsa were unsuccessful.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  farm

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