Motlanthe meets with WC farmers

Western Cape farmers are meeting with the deputy president ahead of SoNA on Thursday.

Western Cape farmers are meeting with the deputy president ahead of SONA on Thursday.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Agriculture MEC Gerrit van Rensburg on Tuesday said he hopes after a meeting with farmers, government will be able to assist those who are being crippled by rising expenses.

Earlier in the day, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe met with farmers at the Val de Vie Estate outside Paarl, to discuss issues affecting the sector.

The special meeting was organised ahead of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SoNA) on Thursday.

Van Rensburg says farmers are taking a financial beating.

He said all the recent increases are having a massive impact on operating costs.

"Farmers are really struggling to make a profit due to the cost of transport, electricity and fertiliser."

The MEC says farmers will have to comply with the R105 per day minimum wage from March 1.

"Some farmers are already paying more than that."

He says the Land Bank should be assisting farmers by reducing interest rates, instead of competing with commercial banks.

"We must make money available for new farmers to buy land at maybe one percent of the interest rate. The government can have the bond and the farmers can pay it back as they work."

Western Cape farmers are still recovering following recent strikes.

In November, farmworkers went on a rampage demanding a R150 daily wage.

Protestors torched property and looted shops during the violent strikes.