Grain SA wants to address government
Fin24 - Mar 12th 2012, 07:36
Bothaville - South Africa’s grain farmers can certainly produce sufficient food for the country. On the other hand, political rhetoric and generalisations about the agricultural sector must end.
This was articulated by Louw Steytler, newly elected chair of Grain SA and a farmer from Lückhoff in the Free State.
He says that neither consumers nor government appreciate the fact that South Africa, unlike many other countries, is not faced with food insecurity. In recent years farmers have had relatively good harvests and the country is self-sustaining.
Droughts and other forces of nature could however quickly change the situation and then thousands of tonnes of basic foodstuffs will need to be imported, as has happened before.
The situation needs to be discussed with government and the dangers highlighted. Steytler nevertheless believes that the grain farmers are able to produce sufficient food.
The agricultural sector has in recent times been singled out for unacceptable rhetoric and generalisations, whereas a non-racial democratic dispensation needs to be developed, says Steytler.
If an agriculturist transgresses the law, he should be tried and punished. The entire agricultural sector should not then been tried from a political platform. “We will convey message on to government very clearly,” he says.
Relations between the agricultural sector and government are also soured by comments that farmers are unwilling to participate in land reform. There is evidence to the contrary and remarks such as these cause frustration in the commercial agricultural sector, he says.
He believes that the voice of reason in organised agriculture - both economically and constitutionally - is coming from people in government circles. He hopes to meet and befriend those individuals.
With reference to Grain SA’s involvement in transformation, Steytler says the assistance being offered to emerging farmers speaks for itself. There are few, if any, other agricultural organisations that do as much to support emerging farmers.
Government needs to clearly instruct its support base to participate in the processes of organised agriculture.
To the grain farmers he said that every generation blames the previous one for what it inherits. “I am convinced that we have the capacity and skills to make a difference and leave our children a better South Africa.”
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