Where is the support for our farmers?

2018-10-23 00:45

Land expropriation without compensation is a burning issue on its own but has anyone ever thought of the real picture on the ground for those who need land and those who already have some? Tebogo Letsie caught up with a few farmers and explored their challenges and needs

It took just a glimpse to see that there’s a lot more about land expropriation without compensation that needs to be questioned and debated, and that there are still many doubts that need to be resolved.

Without going anywhere near these issues, let’s start with those who have a bit of land but need a little more.

There are those who have land, put it to good use but still struggle to sell their produce in the competitive market.

Some have enough land but access to funding is their stumbling block.

Passion for farming led Nkosinathi Tshabalala (36) to leave a blossoming career in the banking sector where he was a manager, for cattle farming.

However, Tshabalala soon realised it was not easy out there in the agricultural sector as he tried to make it amid little space as a Boran cattle farmer on a 2 hectare plot in Randfontein.

He has pinned his hopes on land expropriation without compensation to help those as passionate as he is to acquire more space and break into commercial farming.

“I need more land but I do not have the money to purchase it. I’m left to farm on this piece of land which is limiting me badly.

“The president [Cyril Ramaphosa], who is a farmer himself, should see to it that young black people are funded, equipped and skilled to be successful farmers,” said Tshabalala.

Anunzietta Montembo-Nyangala farms organically in De Deur. Her farm is 4.5ha but she uses only 2ha due to limited irrigation and market accessibility. She has been applying for funding since 2013 to no avail

In De Deur in the Vaal Anunzietta Montembo-Nyangala is striving through challenges in her vegetable farming quest. She needs funding and infrastructure, such as nets and tunnels.

She plants spinach, sweet potato, onions and kale, among others.

With 4.5ha, she can say she has enough land to work on based on current capacity. But she can use only 2ha because of limited irrigation and difficult market accessibility.

Montembo-Nyangala said she has been applying for funding unsuccessfully since 2013.

“I have been writing to the department of rural development and agriculture since 2013, asking for funding and working equipment, but to no avail.

“We need tunnels to protect our plants against frost and birds … we need a proper irrigation system and tractors because all that you see here is handmade,” Montembo-Nyangala said.

In North West, Kagisio Mooki’s family farm in Lekung village near Mahikeng lies derelict with no fencing, water and electricity.

Kagisi Mooki’s family farm in Lekung village near Mahikeng lies unused and with no fencing, water and electricity

Standing on the ground from which he could be making a living, Mooki is gloomy.

His family used to plant maize, sunflowers and sometimes peanuts here but it all changed at the dawn of democracy.

Mooki said the support they used to get from the former Bophuthatswana government stopped when the new government took over in 1994.

“We grew up here, planting and harvesting with the help of the Bophuthatswana government, but since 1994 we have not received even seed or implements.

“One can’t even think of planting with no fence around the fields,” Mooki said.

All the 35-year-old is asking for is support from the government so he can go back to what they used to do to support the family – farming.

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May 19 2019