Farmers welcome split in agri department

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nelspruit - Farmers have welcomed the splitting of the former department of agriculture into two, saying their concerns will now receive more attention.

On Sunday, President Jacob Zuma announced that the department would be split into the Department Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, headed by Tina Joemat-Pettersson, and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, headed by Gugile Nkwinti.

"Establishing the new department will fast-track delivery and give farmers the opportunity to interact with the ministers," said President of the National African Farmers Union (NAFU), Motsipe Matlala.

Mr Matlala, a citrus farmer from Standerton in Mpumalanga, believes government split the old department because of the challenges around land reform, restitution and poor administration.

He hoped the two independent departments would address these problems.

"Farmers play an important role in the country's economy. We hope the new ministers will consult with us and respect our point of view. Farming will never prosper without our involvement," said Mr Matlala.

He said the new ministers must also pay serious attention to farm attacks and invest in agricultural skills development by providing students at tertiary institutions with bursaries to study agriculture.