Commercial farmers indispensable to South Africa

2014-10-28

Dr Pieter Mulder

For historical reasons, the need to have subsistence farms in South Africa from a political perspective is understandable, but it is important to realise that without commercial farming there cannot be food security in the country, Dr. Pieter Mulder, leader of the FF Plus says.

Dr. Mulder said in Parliament today in a debate on food security that a well-known leader recently remarked that the strategic ingredients to avoid a revolution in South Africa are an effective defence force, police and intelligence service.

“I do not agree. It is more likely water, energy and agriculture. Take these three elements away and there will without a doubt be a revolution,” Dr. Mulder said.

Referring to the National Development Plan (NDP), Dr. Mulder said economic welfare goes hand in hand with the production and the availability of food. Even if products are available, people still need money to be able to buy it.

Dr. Mulder said caution should be taken not to lose valuable time and energy by binding people to old fashioned subsistence farming or smallholder farming methods which do not generate income or offer a future.

“The average person does not want to farm to make a living. People prefer to look for work in cities with their modern economies. In South Africa subsistence farming is essential because it secures political stability. It is however important that the goal should be to lead these people to commercial farming.

“As deputy minister of agriculture I often said that South Africa needs more black commercial farmers. But it is important that to look to the future and not bind people with ideological chains to the past,” Dr. Mulder said.

With regards to the effect of crime and farm attacks on agriculture, Dr. Mulder said that only 37 000 farmers are producing 95% of the food in South Africa. If, for the sake of argument, it is calculated that 10 million people are producing their own food, it means roughly that one farmer produces food for 1 100 people.

“If one farmer is murdered as was the case the day before yesterday in Leeudoringstad, it can be said that 1 100 people will be left without food. Let us therefore appreciate our commercial farmers and their contribution to food security and improve the situation further by getting more black commercial farmers to assist with keeping the food basket of the country full,” Dr. Mulder said.

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