At least R2 billion (ZMK1,47 billion) had been spent to support emerging farmers in the past 22 years by the South African government, yet there was not much evidence of where and how this money had been spent. So say dr. Langa Simele of the African Farmers Assosciation of South Africa (Afasa), acting as chief whip at Afasa’s 2016 annual congress.
“Farmers have always supported the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, but now we look back and wonder how many black commercial farmers are here as a result of these programmes,” said Simele.
She said what farmers wanted was to be able to run viable enterprises, supply local markets and take care of their families and their staff. State supported projects were fragmented said Simele and did not develop the capacity of farmers who were perpetually dependent on the state for support. farmer capacity
“We are using our rangeland to the maximum capacity so we can’t increase the numbers in the national herd, but we can upgrade our herds and our animals for better productivity,” she said.
Joe Mnyengo, Afasa representative from the Eastern Cape in South Africa, said that farmers without tools and without capacity were not farmers, they were the laughing stock of white commercial farmers.
“I ask government to exclude tenderpreneurs (those who are just living of government tenders) from the system, especially from communal lands. Farmers have the practical skills to do what is necessary on their farms. If we were given the money to fence, we could fence, but the fencing contracts go those who are just there for the tenders.”
Myengo said a lack of transparency was a problem.
“Some time ago the previous minister (Tina Joemat-Pettersson) presented a number (30) of tractors to farmers which subsequently disappeared into thin air. Later I saw the implements stripped off the tractors at the Tsolo College of Agriculture. Where is the investigation report on this matter?”
Consensus from provincial representatives was that the process of farmer support, land reform and transformation across the board from all the provinces was flawed and had failed.