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'Govt prioritising farmers concerns'

Minister Tina Joemat-Peterson says farmworkers and farmers need to live in harmony.

A farm worker on the job on the outskirts of Meyerton in the south of Johannesburg, Tuesday, 8 January 2013. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA.

JOHANNESBURG - Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Peterson said on Thursday government is now prioritising concerns raised by farmers, stressing that any suggestion of farm occupations must be condemned.

Role players in the sector met with government and the ANC in Parktown on Thursday to discuss uncertainty in the industry.

Delegates included unions representing farm workers, AgriSA and the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa (Tau-SA).

The minister says farmworkers and farmers need to live in harmony.

She described the meeting as a historic moment for the farming industry.

"It's the first time that we've brought these diverse parties together."

The minister says government is now focusing on the safety of farmers.

"Any farm murder should be condemned to the greatest degree."

Joemat-Peterson added government would not tolerate any violence in the sector.

Meanwhile, the ANC's Gwede Mantashe acted as a coordinator between government and the farming community at the meeting.

He says it's important that government and the sector meet eye-to-eye on certain issues plaguing the sector.

"Because we've been talking to the sector for a long time, it's no longer antagonistic so we talk to each other and not past each other."

He added that land and agriculture are vital for the future economic transformation in South Africa.

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