Bosman Grobler MPL
Spokesperson for Department of agriculture and land reform
Emerging farmers in the rural parts of Mpumalanga are feeling the effects of their depleted grazing fields, as can be seen in the photos below. The total lack of support from the Department of Agriculture is failing these farmers.
During his budget speech for 2014/2015, MEC for Agriculture, Andries Gamede, allocated R15 million for the Masibuyele Emasimini initiative with its parent programme, Farmer Support and Development Services, commanding a budget of R449 million. It is obvious that these funds are not being spent in the areas that desperately need assistance.
Cllr Phillip Masombuka has interacted with local farmers who are very worried about the fact that there is very little feed left in Thembisile Hani for their cattle to graze on. Due to the dry winter and the scorching sun, the graze available at this stage of the season is very low in nutritional value. The effect is that cattle eat, but weight is not maintained. The net result is a loss for the farmer.
The non-appearance of the first seasonal rainfall is adding to an already dire situation. Although this is by no measure a crises which threatens water restrictions for human consumption, the first level of life is feeling the effects of the long winter.
The DA calls on the MEC to investigate the nutritional status of the herds belonging to emerging farmers and to intervene in the matter where a need is identified. It is imperative for the provincial government to help emerging farmers and not to set them up for failure.
The DA still believes that the following steps should be taken to ensure that emerging farmers have the best chance of succeeding:
- Proper research should be done to ensure that the correct commodity is farmed within a suitable area.
- A proper business plan and skills audit should be done in co-operation with the emerging farmer, the department and organised agriculture unions to ensure proper systems are in place to support the emerging farmer.
- A mentorship program should be in place, to provide the emerging farmer with the much needed knowledge and experience in order to optimise farming.
- The department should commit to putting checks and balances in place to provide the emerging farmer with enough resources to succeed, yet inspire responsible management of the resources.
The DA would like to emphasize that the successful management of agricultural practises is vital for food security in this province and our country.