North West MEC for Rural‚ Environment and Agricultural Development, Desbo Mohono, says she will speedily address farmers’ challenges and prioritise the needs of emerging farmers in the province.
She made the commitment during her first meeting with farmers in the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality on Tuesday.
The arranged string of meetings with farmers across the province is part of Mohono’s plans to improve stakeholder engagement, public participation and to promote accountability, as well as transparency in government.
During the meeting farmers raised a number of challenges, including among others, access to land for farming purposes, mechanisation, and the shortage of water for farming and visibility of extension officers in various areas of Bojanala.
A fish farmer from Madibeng, George Moatshe, urged the MEC and the department to make an arrangement for them to be trained and equipped with skills to farm fish and create necessary job opportunities for people in the Madibeng area.
“We need training MEC! We don’t need money, only training on aquaculture,” Moatshe said.
Agricultural formations, farmer associations and the youth welcomed Mohono’s visit to Bojanala.
“We also wish to commend her initiative of visiting farmers on her first few weeks after her deployment to [the] department,” Chairperson of the African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA) in Bojanala, K K Motsosi said.
In her response, Mohono acknowledged that not everything will be resolved in a short period of time, but her department will do everything possible to assist farmers in the province with production inputs.
“We would not know the challenges you are facing as farmers unless we engage with you, [and] that is why we are here today. I have heard your complaints and suggestions. Some of your complaints will be attended to as a matter of urgency, as I have said I want to move with speed,” Mohono said.
She said that farmers’ contributions will help the department to make informed decisions and proper plans.
With regard to the shortage of agricultural technicians, the MEC said the department has taken a decision to employ and increase the number of extension officers and veterinarians in the province who will be attached to farmers at community level.
On access to land, the MEC said discussions between her department and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform will take place in the not distant future to assist those in need of land for purpose of food production.
Mohono announced that for this academic year, at least 10 students will be supported financially to further their studies in two state-owned agricultural colleges in the province. She challenged the youth to fight for their space in the agricultural and environment sector, noting that there are opportunities there.
Food security programmes
Meanwhile, Mohono said she has instructed her officials to identify 200 families, or 50 families per district, who will be empowered with food security programmes aimed at pushing back the frontiers of poverty in the rural communities of the province.
Mohono’s meetings with farmers will continue to other three districts of the province. On Thursday, she is expected to meet with farmers in Dr Kenneth Kaunda District in Matlosana Banquet Hall, then proceed to Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati on 22 January to meet with farmers in Naledi Banquet Hall.
Mohono will on 24 January 2019 meet with Ngaka Modiri Molema farmers in Mmabatho Civic Centre. – SAnews.gov.za