Farmworkers head home after a long day of planting and ploughing at a macadamia farm in Ncera Village in the Eastern Cape. Picture: Daily Dispatch
Farmworkers head home after a long day of planting and ploughing at a macadamia farm in Ncera Village in the Eastern Cape. Picture: Daily Dispatch

Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has berated farmers over their failure to engage in plans to transform.

Addressing the Progressive Business Forum’s breakfast briefing with business at the ANC national conference in Nasrec on Monday, Zulu said although the agricultural sector was important for the economy’s growth — as it continued to show continued resilience while other industries declined — it was still controlled by the "same old white males".

The sector was credited as the main driver of the country’s GDP growth of 2% in the third quarter of 2017.

Zulu was speaking about the inclusion of small business enterprises and co-operatives in the sector when she berated its lack of transformation.

"We are not having a quarrel with them from any view, except to say that black South Africans need the land and they need to be assisted with skills in order to utilise that land adequately," she said, noting that there were farmers who still owned "tracks and tracks of this land and there is very little transformation there".

She has also urged small businesses and co-operatives to take advantage of the gains being made in agriculture and agro-processing.

Zulu again told business leaders at the briefing that owners of small businesses still faced problems getting access to industry as they had to compete with big business.

There was political will to turn the situation around, she said.

She hoped to see the support translate into real activities, in the form of financial and nonfinancial support for small businesses.

"There has to be an understanding that many of the small businesses as well as co-operatives are having to compete with big companies who have deeper pockets, who have been operating for a very long time.

"Our view in the department is that yes, there is political will to ensure that we support your SMMEs. But political will on its own, not being supported by real activities, real financial and nonfinancial support by ensuring that we create that a conducive environment for SMMEs, will almost be meaningless."

Zulu reassured business that the government was committed to streamlining processes by centralising all services currently being provided to small business owners by different departments.

She said this would assist in the removal of red tape, which has been a struggle for start-up businesses.

Please sign in or register to comment.