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Farming sector under strain

The farming sector is under immense pressure and most farmers are forced to lay off workers.

The farming sector is under immense pressure and most farmers are forced to lay off workers.

CAPE TOWN - The Labour Department on Tuesday said there has been a sharp decrease in jobs being created in the country's farming sector.

The industry in the Cape has been hit by two wage strikes over the past few weeks.

The ministry said the sector has been facing numerous problems since early 2011, which has impacted negatively on jobs.

In a report compiled by the Employment Conditions Commission, it explained that many farmers' net income is decreasing because of the rise in the cost of goods and services.

It added inclement weather in early 2011 hit field crop farmers hard, which in turn affected jobs.

Agri SA's Theo de Jager said the sector has been under strain for months.

"The biggest pressure is the cost squeeze."

Public hearings among farmers and labourers are being held this month nationally, to get input on how best to amend the sectoral determination for minimum wages in the industry.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson earlier defended the deadly strike saying farmworkers have a right to voice their grievances.

She said those who took part in the strike would not be arrested.

At least two people lost their lives in the first round of strikes in the province.

Workers were demanding a salary of R150 a day.

Currently, they are earning between R69 and R80.

The department is holding talks with various role players to find a way forward.