Agricultural minister Thoko Didiza has assured the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (Afasa) that their proposed inclusions for the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP) would be carried out in the implementation of the master plan.
Afasa, an organisation representing black farmers in South Africa, caused quite a stir last week when its president issued a statement highlighting key areas they felt were missing in the AAMP document. The organisation spoke out after it heard that the AAMP document would be signed off by the minister today (Thursday, 12 May 2022).
The president of Afasa, AJ Mthembu, said their senior representatives met with Didiza last week to raise their dissatisfaction with the document.
Last-minute changes were made to the document, but Afasa still felt aggrieved. Despite the inclusion of some of their concerns the farmer organisation requested another urgent meeting with Didiza.
The way forward
During an after-hours meeting on Tuesday, 10 May, a consensus was reached that Afasa’s other recommendations – not included in the document – would eventually be addressed.
“As promised, we shared our areas of concern for inclusion in the latest AAMP document due for signing on 12 May 2022 and some of our proposals were included
“Following the second meeting with the minister in [the past] two weeks, we are confident that ‘the proof will be in the pudding’,” said Mthembu.
The minister said that the document would not explicitly reflect their proposed inclusions word for word, Afasa wrote in a statement.
Didiza however assured Afasa, “that the implementation will meet our satisfaction as the AAMP does not replace other functions and policies of the Department”. This according to their statement and confirmed by Reggie Ngcobo, spokesperson for the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development to Food for Mzansi..
Afasa said it was taking the minister’s word but appreciated that in business an agreement by handshake was not enough. The organisation said that a point of reference in writing would be necessary.
The farmer organisation said they have agreed with the minister that they would sign on the condition that their concerns are addressed in the implementation of the AAMP.
Afasa has put together a document reflecting its conditions for signing. They are also embarking on a process to produce its own AAMP that “reflects the wishes of black farmers since 1994”.
‘Not the right kind of policy’
Meanwhile TLU SA has taken a strong stance saying that it did not support the AAMP.
According to Bennie van Zyl, TLU SA general manager, it was very concerning that the role players who were signing off on the plan are not necessarily primary farmers.
“We are convinced that if we as an organisation sign off on the AAMP, we are abandoning every commercial farmer in the country – black and white – because we are putting them under pressure with the wrong kind of policy development that will inevitably result from this, because the ANC makes everything ideological instead of economically [driven] … with this we have a very big problem,” Van Zyl said.
“TLU SA states unequivocally that the document should not be signed. We were prepared to work together to make sure we came up with an economically driven agricultural plan in the interests of all the role players. But unfortunately it seems as if the ANC and some of the other role players have chosen differently,” Van Zyl said.
Sign up for Mzansi Today: Your daily take on the news and happenings from the agriculture value chain.