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Minister Zokwana, emerging farmers put heads together to alleviate hunger

Addressing emerging farmers in Stellenbosch on Wednesday morning, Minister Senzeni Zokwana emphasised the importance of ensuring food security.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana on 13 March 2019 met with emerging farmers in Stellenbosch, Western Cape. Picture: Kevin Brandt/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Nearly 14 million South Africans don't know where their next meal will come from.

Addressing emerging farmers in Stellenbosch on Wednesday morning, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana emphasised the importance of ensuring food security.

Zokwana met with farmers to outline government’s plans to help them.

Farmers bemoaned obstacles such as market access and the cost of setting up their businesses as some of the impediments they face.

They also said access to agricultural land was a huge stumbling block.

“The first guys I had to retrench, while the youngest guys - my brother was one of them – six guys lost their jobs,” said one farmer.

While another farmer said: “We have a huge group of black farmers coming in the industry without land. We are at a disadvantaged position at the moment.”

Zokwana has, however, assured farmers of government’s efforts to assist up-and-coming farmers.

He said the aim is to increase South Africa’s trade potential in agriculture from R54 billion in 2015 to R90 billion by 2030.

LAND REFORM WILL NOT IMPACT FARMERS

Zokwana gave an assurance that farmers using land for production would not be impacted by land reform.

Despite less than 1% of farms in the Western Cape being black-owned, the minister said land expropriation would not happen at the expense of producing farmers.

“This land reform will take the form of government first making sure that government land is released which we are doing already. But also, other farms where there’s nobody on the farms, those farms will be taken. But this is not meant to top threaten anybody.”

Hex River Valley wine farmer Robin Johnson explained that besides land there were still a number of challenges facing upcoming farmers.

“It is access to water and also access to finance.”

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department implemented the SA-GAP Certification Programme to ensure producers of vegetables and fresh fruits meet minimum food safety and quality requirements set by commercial mainstream markets.

Some experts have told Parliament it's not necessary to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to explicitly allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

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