8 April 2020
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape is calling on National Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to review her Covid-19 funding relief plan to also include support to commercial farmers.
The DA welcomes the package of R1,2 billion that was set aside by the national department to address the effects of Coronavirus and to ensure sustainable food production post pandemic. While we are glad that this money will be used to support emerging farmers, we are of the firm view that the allocation should serve all farmers, not just emerging farmers.
It is unfair that commercial farmers, who produce the bulk of the country’s food and whose ongoing operations must ensure adequate food production to feed the nation, even throughout this pandemic, continue to be sidelined by government.
Expecting debt-laden commercial farmers to fend for themselves by taking out additional loans from the Land Bank while emerging farmers receive free “grants”, is shortsighted and unappreciative of the commercial agricultural sector.
Whether the ANC likes it or not, this country depends on commercial farmers and it needs to stop alienating them and start supporting them, or risk destabilizing food security.
We therefore appeal to Didiza to put her party’s petty populist politics aside and to recognize our established commercial agricultural sector as part and parcel of this country’s assets. Failure to do so may well rid this country of the commercial agricultural sector’s expertise and productivity, which seems to be what certain factions of the ANC want, but it will certainly not usher in long awaited land reform. Instead, it will deplete the country’s food basket and usher in loss of productivity, hardship and famine.
Defeating Coronavirus and ensuring South Africa’s sustainability post pandemic requires everyone to take hands and work together – this includes government and the entire agricultural sector.
Andrew Louw, MPL
DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader
082 383 6914
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387