Black farmers say government needs to make 3 key changes to help them succeed

Black farmers say government needs to make 3 key changes to help them succeed

- Black farmers say land acquisition remains a major constraint in the sector

- A lack of financial support to support black farmers long enough for the farm to become established is a big concern

- Government officials are not always qualified or knowledgeable about the farming industry

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Last month Parliament adopted a policy which could lead to amendments being made to the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation. The hope is this will lead to an upswing in successful black-owned farms.

Maseli Letuka and Shadrack Mbele are both successful black farmers who have through hard work and unwavering dedication made their farms count. The two men say there are many challenges facing black farmers in the sector.

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Letuka says first and foremost farming is not considered a glamorous or fashionable career among black youths, who prefer to chase after perceived opportunities in the big cities. Letuka said there needs to be a cultural shift because farming offered major economic opportunities. gathered that Letuka and Mbele agree that the government need to focus on three key areas to help black people become established farmers.

Land acquisition remains a major constraint for farmers, according to Letuka, he adds that a lack of financial support to help fledgling new farmers keep their operations going until they are established is also a huge problem.

Farmers also worry about the capacity of government structures which are meant to support emerging farmers. Mbele said most government officials who are appointed to lead the agriculture sector seldom, if ever have an agricultural background.

Mbele noted that if the decision was up to him all only people with strong farming backgrounds and agricultural knowledge would be appointed as agriculture MEC’s.

"I would relook the policies and make sure that the director-general I appoint is a person with the basics of agriculture. He must be from a farmer organisation," he said

Mbele said local governments needed to implement projects which aimed to support district farmers.

Both men said there needs to be stronger ties between farmers and universities. "Government needs to improve its relationship with the universities. If you look to the organisations of whites, there are some economists from the universities, there are some scientists from the universities who are working with them," Mbele said.

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