DURBAN – THE establishment of the South African Farmers Association (SAFDA), with an investment of over R70 million (US$5,9 million) has been hailed as a milestone for black farmers in the sugar farming industry.
About 5 000 farmers across the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Mpumalanga provinces attended the launch in Gingindlovu, north of KZN.
Bheki Cele, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, was among attendees.
“Time for change has come,” Cele said.
He said grower capacity development would make a huge impact in an industry where white farmers had been dominating.
Cele added that it was his department’s responsibility to ensure that land was given back to its rightful owners and that black farmers go into profitable partnerships that would help grow them and the country’s economy.
This initiative is championed by Siyabonga Madlala, Chief Executive Officer of SAFDA, who together with his team Andile Buthelezi, Lindiwe Hlubi and Thandokwakhe Sibiya went to parliament in October 2017 and shouted for change in the sugar farming industry in order for the black farmers’ voice to be heard.
Madlala said small scale farmers would make a huge impact to contribute to economic transformation now that they are recognised.
He led a walk out from the South African Sugar Association (SASA) in 2015.
Black sugar farmers believed SASA did not provide for black emerging farmers but enriched white farmers.
Mashego Dlamini, Deputy Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform, said the R71 million invested to SAFDA was evidence the initiative would grow emerging farmers.
“While this launch was to celebrate recognition by SASA, it was also to educate and inform potential investors and sponsors on the many challenges this industry faces like, lack of access to sustainable development/commodity finances, high input costs (chemicals and seeds), economies of scale, unsustainable operations, lack of access to funding,” Madlala said.
SAFDA has over 2 500 registered members.
– CAJ News