The African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan. The organization said the plan rightfully puts agriculture at the centre of the country’s new path of growth, employment, and transformation.
Last week, President Ramaphosa announced the economic stimulus and recovery plan which he said should be implemented immediately to, “ignite economic activity; restore investor confidence; prevent further job losses and create new jobs; as well as to address urgent challenges that affect the conditions faced by vulnerable groups”.
Mr Neo Masithela, AFASA chairperson said the organization is encouraged by the President’s commitment, and in return commits itself in supporting the plan to reignite and grow the economy working hand in hand with government. The President’s announcement, particularly on agriculture and land reform, resonates with AFASA’s Agribusiness Transformation Conference’s resolutions and plans, which is a clear indication that government now understand the importance of the industry.
Lack of infrastructure, finance, and markets, technical support, as well as land, are growth impediments for black farmers. It gives AFASA confidence, that these are focal issues in the government’s economic stimulus and recovery plan in order to ensure that agriculture realizes its full potential in its contribution to the economy.
AFASA welcomes the President’s commitments, which among others include;
- Coming up with a package of support measures for black commercial farmers to increase their entry into food value chains through access to infrastructures like abattoirs and feedlots.
- Mobilize for a blended finance from the Land Bank, Industrial Development Corporation and commercial banks.
- The implementation and expansion of procurement from small business and cooperatives, as well as using trade measures – within WTO rules – to protect poultry and other sensitive sectors, including the vigorous crackdown on illegal imports.
- Supporting activities with great impact on economic growth, domestic demand and job creation, with a bias to township and rural economies, women and youth.
- Finalization of the signing of 30 years leases to enable farmers to mobilize funding for agricultural development.
“We appreciate the long-term lease agreements, at least at this point, especially if it would allow Land Bank to structure a finance facility for the lease holders. However, we remain adamant that black farmers should be given title deeds to the land, which we believe will better position black farmers in terms accessing finance and other investments,” says Mr Masithela.
Furthermore, the appointment of an advisory panel on land reform led by AFASA President, Dr Vuyo Mahlati, which is meant to guide the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Land Reform chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza, manifest a renewed attitude towards the sector from government. The recognition and inclusion of the Agriculture Sector Unity Forum (ASUF) is also welcomed.
According to President Ramaphosa, the 10-person panel is to advise government on the implementation of a fair and equitable land reform process that redresses the injustices of the past, increases agricultural output, promotes economic growth and protects food security.
“AFASA welcomes and appreciates the direction government is taking under President Ramaphosa. We hope that indeed the ‘New Dawn’ will bring about positive results and achieve the much-needed growth in the economy, but most importantly, address the challenges facing our masses, that is food security, decent jobs, and an overall dignified livelihood,” concluded Mr Masithela.