Agricultural organisations commit to work with government

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Agricultural organisations have signed a declaration of intent on land reform that will help government to transform the sector.

The African Farmers' Association of South Africa (AFASA), National African Farmers' Union (NAFU), Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) and Agri SA signed the declaration of intent “as living proof” of their commitment to work together with government to develop a joint agricultural development plan for agriculture, and ensure a growing and inclusive agricultural sector aligned with the outcomes of the National Development Plan.

The outcomes entail, amongst others, food security, job creation, development, sustainability and higher levels of competitiveness.

Stability in the agricultural sector

In the declaration, the unions also intend to build mutual trust, collaboration and bring about stability in the agricultural sector, and to identify all the constraints, especially government policies, plans and institutional incapacity that are impeding on development and growth in the sector and initiate alternative interventions.  

The declaration, signed on Monday in Centurion, Tshwane, follows the Landbou Weekblad and Agri-SA Land and Agricultural Summit, held last week in Bela Bela, Limpopo.

Deputy President David Mabuza, who witnessed the signing ceremony, said the declaration signed, offers this country a very important platform that would allow government and partners to shape and craft an agricultural plan and strategy for the country.

“This is a very important platform that you’ve created for all of us. As government we would hold hands with you, we would march side by side until we reach our destination. Be assured of our support each step of the way,” Deputy President Mabuza said.

Unity for progress

AFASA President, Dr Vuyo Mahlati, said the day was a culmination of a vigorous process of introspection with various players to create space through ASUF for constructive engagement.

“It has been a very tough engagement because we all represent our constituencies and we come here not compromising our positions. As AFASA, we talk about unity for progress but not unity of oppression, and this is the spirit within which we are all pushing the direction of this unity,” Dr Mahlati said.

In the document, the unions acknowledge the issues of inequality within the agricultural sector and failure of land reform. They also acknowledge that they don’t necessarily agree with the issue of land expropriation without compensation.

“As far as we are concerned, the focus of today is that we have all participated in the public hearings [Land expropriation] with our positions, and that is something we appreciate, in terms of diversity of views.

“What is important, is that we believe that we have a responsibility of crafting a very progressive National Agricultural Development Plan that will address issues of inclusivity, sustainability, and ensure that we deal very decisively with the problems that we are facing,” Mahlati said.

TAU SA President Louis Meintjes said the union’s message to government is that, government has a choice to either be exclusive or inclusive in the engagement.

“We suggest that you [Mabuza] give the message to the President that government be inclusive in the engagements of the agricultural sector,” Meintjes said.

NAFU SA President, Motsepe Matlala, said that the unity means that the difference of the citizens of South Africa would come to an end, and that people who are passionate in farming would no longer be killed.

“This unity of purpose will create something that will bring our children, the youth and women to work together for the common course, and the common future of our people. It would no longer be necessary for us to run to other countries to ask for protection [and] this is a message to be taken to the government leadership, that these farmers are there because they like to farm,” Matlala said. –