Black farmers say the government abandoned them and neglected to provide support

Black farmers say the government abandoned them and neglected to provide support

- Frustrated black farmers have accused the government of abandoning them and not providing the necessary support for them to succeed

- Whiskey Kgabo claims even when the government provides financial aid to emerging black farmers, it usually does so according to its own agenda and not according to a viable business plan

- Kgabo and other leading black and emerging farmers said providing support to farmers was more important than land expropriation in ensuring successful agricultural transformation

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Frustrated and angry black farmers have lashed out at the government for abandoning them and failing to provide them with the necessary financial support which would enable their businesses to develop and ultimately succeed.

Whiskey Kgabo said the common perception that black people could not farm was false and in most cases, black farmers failed because they struggled to access funds to help them with their endeavours.

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Kgabo said the biggest difference between white and black farmers was that white farmers had greater access to funds and if black and emerging farmers had the same access they would prove their doubters wrong.

Briefly.co.za gathered that Kgabo is a mango farmer from Limpopo who has made a huge success of his farming business. Kgabo’s rise has been fraught with challenges which he has worked incredibly hard to overcome.

Kgabo said even when the government provides financial aid to emerging farmers, it usually did so according to its own agenda and not according to any viable or realistic business plan.

Kgabo had to start his business from scratch when his farm was seized by the government in 2005. Citizen.co.za reported that Kgabo was only compensated for the seizure in 2013.

The government now considers Kgabo an emerging farmer because of the seizure. Kgabo says this label has done little to no good for his business. He said each time he requested funding and provided the government with a business plan he would receive only a fraction of the amount he needed.

Kgabo said in one instance his business plan made it clear that he required R15 million in order for the business to be viable for a certain time period. Despite the validity and expansive nature of his business plan the government only gave him R1 million and told him to reapply for more financing at a later stage.

He said this practice meant farmer were unable to fully utilise the land which they had at their disposal and this more often than not led to the entire operation failing.

Other successful black farmers have also spoken out against the government and said the key to transforming the agriculture sector was providing black farmers with adequate financial support and not by enacting land reform programs.

Thamanga Malapane an economist and senior manager at African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (Afasa) agreed that the government was failing black farmers. He also felt the government was slack in its commitment to provide financial support to black farmers.

Malapane remained hopeful that President Cyril Ramaphosa would stick to the promise he made when he took office in February to boost investment in the agriculture sector. He said he hoped the current failures would be overcome and the government would come good on its promises.

READ ALSO: Athol Trollip ousted as NMB mayor in controversial no confidence vote

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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