Farmers ‘need more support’
Business Day - Oct 17th 2011, 08:25
SA has the ability to balance the needs of both commercial and subsistence farmers without sacrificing food security objectives, Deputy Agriculture Minister Pieter Mulder said at the Agri SA congress on Friday.
With the green paper on land reform released for public input in August, the commercial farmers’ congress dedicated most of its time to the potential effect of the pending policy on the future of farming . The paper suggests the capping of agricultural holdings, among other proposals.
Mr Mulder urged farmers to lobby the government on the importance of farm size in the achievement of economies of scale. He said that while there was a need for land reform , the government needed to keep farmers sufficiently productive and competitive.
He lamented the country’s declining competitiveness in many industrial sectors, saying agriculture’s contribution to gross domestic product was waning partly due to lack of government support, unstable policies, as well as insufficient research funding, and therefore lack of innovation.
Agri SA president Johannes Möller said local farming operations had no protection and support and yet had to compete in a sophisticated global value chain.
He said that while farmers were eager to take advantage of SA’s international standing, the past few months had been challenging because of the cost implications of packaging, processing and the logistics of getting products to the market.
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