David Mabuza. Picture: SOWETAN
David Mabuza. Picture: SOWETAN

The presidents of four organised agriculture bodies signed a statement of intent on Monday to work together and develop a national development strategy for the agricultural sector.

The organisations‚ under the umbrella body of Agri Sector Unity Forum (ASUF)‚ will hold an indaba in November to develop the plan.

Deputy President David Mabuza was present to witness the signing of the statement of intent and said the government would support the farmers’ initiative.

The presidents of the African Farmers’ Association of SA (Afasa)‚ TAU-SA‚ National African Farmers’ Union of SA (Nafu SA) and Agri SA said they wanted to build trust within the sector and come up with a national strategy for a number of concerns that they agreed on.

They said problems with the current land reform policies and programmes were so comprehensive and intricate that it was unlikely that these could be fixed.

"The system needs a complete redesign‚" they said.

They also said post-settlement support for new farmers was critical and that land could not be transferred without support.

They also said export-led growth for black farmers was crucial and that more opportunities should be created for women and youth in the sector.

There was a lack of trust among stakeholders that needed to be addressed urgently and a lack of accountability towards black farmer development — nobody was held liable for mistakes on land reform.

Dr Vuyo Mahlati‚ president of Afasa‚ said the engagements of the presidents of the agricultural bodies had acknowledged issues of inequality in the sector and failure of land reform.

"We don’t agree on the issue of expropriation without compensation. As far as we are concerned‚ we have all participated in the public hearings‚" Mahlati said.

President of Agri SA, Dan Kriek‚ president of Nafu SA, Motsepe Mohlala‚ president of TAU-SA, Louis Meintjies and Mahlati signed the statement of intent.