The South African farmer organisations drafting a so-called “new” or “real” agricultural master plan could just be wasting their time. National agri minister Thoko Didiza says her department and likeminded stakeholders are focused on implementing the signed and official Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP) and nothing else.
“Any alternative plan outside the AAMP process is unlikely to be a true and balanced reflection of the diverse stakeholder interests and commitments in the sector,” Didiza tells Food For Mzansi.
Her statement follows the Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa (TLU SA), the Southern African Agri Initiative (SAAI) and sympathetic organisations announcing that they are working on what they deem the “true agricultural master plan”.
The minister says the development of the AAMP is a product of sector-wide consultations, negotiations and commitments from public- and private-sector players, implying that the dissatisfied groups are likely on a wild goose chase.
Backed up by reputable contributors
“It is underpinned by robust consultative sessions coupled with technical research from the National Agricultural Marketing Council, The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy and the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development that assisted to generate the evidence basis for the now agreed-on policy decisions and practical solutions for the inclusive growth of the sector.
“An alternative plan is likely to fuel divisions and be detrimental to the efforts towards improving trust levels in the sector and undermine the efforts made by many stakeholders during the development and eventual sign-off of the AAMP.”
Didiza adds that the consultation and research took place over several months between April 2020 and September 2021 and dismisses claims that the dissatisfied organisations were excluded.
TLU SA claimed that their organisation had been deprived of the opportunity to contribute to a plan “for the benefit of all farmers in South Africa” but Didiza says that “many stakeholders, including TLU SA, were consulted and provided with a fair opportunity to contribute and form part of the constructive process to build a competitive, inclusive and job-generating sector”.
TLU SA’s main objection is that the plan is “not inclusive”, not “driven by economics” and “only subordinated to a transformation agenda”. “[Our] farmers feel that profitability, sustainability and efficiency of agriculture are more important than transformation and believe that their subordination to transformation is precisely the cause of the collapse of state-owned enterprises, public health and so many municipalities,” it said in a statement.
‘Implementation our only focus’
Didiza’s department of agriculture, land reform and rural development says its only focus is to implement the signed AAMP.
Tough economic conditions increased the urgency for the department and its social partners to focus, even with limited resources and time, on implementing the measures they had agreed to, Didiza says. This is to ensure the availability and affordability of food in the country.
The executive director of Agri SA, one of Mzansi’s biggest agri organisations and signatory to the AAMP, also told Food For Mzansi in a previous article that they firmly stood by the official plan.
Christo van der Rheede called the rejection of the signed plan “unfortunate” and added that everyone involved in the process is working hard to implement it for the betterment of the sector.
He said that anyone aggrieved by it needed to take it up with national minister Thoko Didiza.
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