Zuma strengthens relationship with AgriSA

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma is keen to change the way government works with the farming industry, saying the partnership needs to be "more action driven."

Speaking after a meeting on Friday with AgriSA - a key body in the farming industry - Zuma said government's focus was on food security, affordability and sustainable land reform while working with all agricultural groupings for a better future.

The union which represents more than 70 000 large and small-scale commercial farmer members - had earlier in the year requested a meeting with the president so that he could familiarise himself with the current realities impacting on agriculture and rural communities.

"They [Agri SA] have the knowledge and experience. Its a matter of how we can integrate so that we can have results," Zuma told media after the meeting.

He said there was a need to change and look at how best they will use the land to feed the nation and to reduce dependency on food imports.

According to Zuma, the farming industry is an important driver of the economy and development of the country.

"I strongly believe that Africa's development will be led by enhancing the performance of agriculture," said Zuma adding that the meeting was an eye opener.

AgriSA President Johannes Moller said Zuma's focus on rural development and the development and improvement of infrastructure was of particular interest.

"Food security is high on government's agenda, which is very positive for farmers. Government realises that closer co-operation with the private sector is vital, "added Moller.

According to Moller, their discussions were centred on labour issues - which have in the past dominated news headlines, interest in expanding farming to other African countries as well as their contribution to food security.

Food security is currently one of government's key priorities. In South Africa alone, 2.2 million households are regarded as food insecure and vulnerable.

It is estimated that this group utilizes more than 60 percent of their income on purchasing food- a challenge that the government and the union vowed to tackle.

The two, who labelled the meeting as fruitful, agreed to look for ways of strengthening their relationship and working for the common good.