Horns locked on signed agriculture master plan

A small group of South African farmers’ organizations are unhappy with the recently signed Agriculture and Agribusiness Master Plan (AAMP) and have decided to come up with their own ‘true agricultural master plan’.

As work begins to push the official plan towards its goal of implementation, the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa (TLU SA), Southern African Agri Initiative (SAAI) and sympathetic industry organizations are working to compile of a document that suits them best.

But the executive director of Agri SA, one of the largest agricultural organizations in Mzansi and a signatory of the AAMP, is sticking firmly to the official plan. Christo van der Rheede calls the rejection of the signed plan “unfortunate” and adds that everyone involved in the process is working hard to implement it for the good of the sector. He believes that anyone aggrieved by this should speak with National Minister Thoko Didiza.

“All representatives had a fair chance [to have their proposals heard]explains Van der Rheede.

“The Transvaal union has always been part of the talks and yes it is their right not to sign. However, the majority of organizations [involved] signed the master plan.

ALSO READ: Agriculture master plan is ‘a step in the right direction’

Why TLU SA did not sign the plan

In a press release issued in May, shortly after the formal plan was signed, TLU SA said its organization had been denied the opportunity to contribute to a plan “for the benefit of all farmers in South Africa”. The organization alleged that it had submitted several requests to various actors in the value chain, but to no avail.

In a separate statement, released a few days ago, the organization now says “the plan is not inclusive, and other than individual signatories, there was no opportunity to provide feedback.”

TLU SA’s main objection is that the plan is “not inclusive”, not “economically driven” and “only conditional on a transformation agenda”.

A photo taken during the signing ceremony of Minister Thoko Didiza, her deputies, the provincial agriculture MECs and some of the social partners who participated in the Agriculture and Agro-industry Master Plan. Photo: Supplied/Food for Mzansi

“[Our] farmers believe that the profitability, sustainability and efficiency of agriculture are more important than processing and believe that their subordination to processing is precisely the cause of the collapse of public enterprises, public health and so many of municipalities,” the statement read.

The organization and its partners admit there were laudable elements in the official plan but say making it dependent and subordinate to processing “abandons the purpose, betrays the farmers and renders the plan useless”.

Implementation of the AAMP is already underway

Van der Rheede, on the other hand, says the social partners who shook hands on the AAMP document are all working on its implementation “so that it doesn’t end up on the shelves.”

He says the master plan addresses profitability issues as well as critical aspects like the condition of roads, ports, market access, infrastructure challenges and electricity supply. “It is impossible for agriculture to survive without these problems being solved.

“The master plan talks mostly about inclusive growth because we want to see black farmers grow in the [sector]. The master plan also aims to ensure that even agricultural workers benefit, so it addresses all of that.

Van der Rheede adds: “We believe we have engaged all relevant stakeholders in the master plan. We all need to support what the government is doing and ensure that the blueprint is implemented. »

In parallel, a public awareness campaign has since been launched by TLU SA to encourage participation in the “new master plan project”.

The organization says it plans to process the contributions, compile a draft and send it out to participants for completion. It then plans to send a final, “more inclusive” plan to the State and to the signatories of the AAMP.

Its chief executive, Bennie van Zyl, says they hope to have a less political and more “economic” plan at the end.

ALSO READ: Afasa and Didiza reach an agreement on the implementation of the master plan

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