Use land to fight hunger, says MEC

Friday, February 24, 2012

Magaliesberg - North West MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Boitumelo Tshwene says South Africans should use land properly to push back the frontiers of hunger and poverty.

"If land is properly and correctly used in our country, it can help us solve our problem ... to create jobs. We can also use land to accumulate wealth and defeat hunger," he said.

Tshwene was speaking at the unveiling of the recapitalisation and development programme at Khuphukha farm, outside Rustenburg, on Friday.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has committed itself to supporting more than 1 000 deserted and unproductive farms. Through the programme, a farm will be funded under close supervision of the department in order to show sustainability going forward.

The programme is designed to increase agricultural production, guarantee food security, job creation and graduate small scale farmers to commercial farmers in the agricultural sector.

Tshwene said one of the measures used by government to support the correct use of land was to only partner with those who have been successful at farming.

"A strategic partner is someone with farm knowledge, experience and a record of success in the farming industry, so you can't be our strategic partner if you've failed to run a farm," he said.

The MEC said it was not money that mattered in farming, but commitment, hard work and responsibility.

He appealed to established farmers in the area to share their experience and farming skills with the emerging farmer's counterparts. "We are appealing to you to share your faming experience and skills with them so that their farms can be viable as well."

Owner of Khuphukha SALGAP farm - a chicken broiler farm - Grace Abdul said: "I've outgrown my challenges in the farming sector, now the sun is shining for me. I'm a successful farmer because I'm not in farming for fun or glory, but because I've goals which include contributing the economic development of this country.

"Since I completed my degree in animal production from Tshwane University of Technology in 2002, I have had a passion for farming and when my peers were looking for job I was looking for a piece of land to farm."

Abdul said she had 16 permanent staff members and 40 temporary workers at the farm she started with four partners in 2006. Two partners dropped out when the going got tough.