If agricultural in Africa failed to grow, the continent would stay impoverished, said Mr Omri van Zyl, CEO of the South African agricultural farmers’ union – Agri SA.
He said most African countries had been independent since 1965 but after 50 years the continent was still a net importer of food. He said commercial farming provided the platform the could revive the African economy and propel the continent to become the breadbasket of the world.
More opportunities for small scale farmers
“Give small scale farmers a better chance to become commercial farmers. We must provide them with the opportunities to do so.”
Van Zyl said there were several drawbacks in African countries that made it difficult for small scale farmers to farm commercially. He said since most of these farmers did not own their land or any other investment, they had no collateral for finance. He added that because small scale farmers had little access to finance, they also had no access to insurance, leaving them completely vulnerable.
“It means one hailstorm can destroy a farmer completely.”
It is also well know that most small scale farmers in Africa were funded by donors and NGO’s. When these donation organisations withdrew their funds, farming projects failed in the end. Van Zyl said that size didn’t matter when it came to commercial farming
“It is still a business for both.”
‘Zimbabwe need commercial farmers’
According to Dr Nigel Chanakira, chairman of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, there was a need in Zimbabwe to commercialise the land the government leased for cultivation.
He said there were initiatives from the government to go into partnerships with farmers to increase production in the country.
He said the biggest challenge the county had to face after the large scale evictions was that the remaining commercial farmers were getting older and their children refused to return to the country.
“Although there are some emerging young, black farmers, the country still needs large commercial farmers.
- Reporting by Joylene van Wyk and Fredalette Buys