Children of farmworkers must enter the sector by choice and not by circumstance. This was the stern message earlier today (Monday, 25 October 2021) from agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoko Didiza. She spoke at a farmworker stakeholder engagement event in the Cederberg Municipality in the Western Cape.
The event, hosted at the De Meul community centre in Citrusdal, provided a platform for farmworkers to share their plight with the agricultural minister.
Addressing workers and members of farmworker organisations, Didiza said the event marked an important day in her department’s calendar, pointing to International Day for Rural Women (15 October) and World Food Day (16 October).
According to the minister, the department wants to ensure that they have a diverse programme to respond to farmworkers’ needs.
“The issue of capacity building of farmworkers remains important, particularly for the children of farmworkers. We want to break the cycle of poverty. We want to ensure that children of farmworkers come into the sector by choice, not by circumstance,” Didiza told attendees.
Furthermore, the issue of tenure security remains critical for employees, Didiza acknowledged.
She also said that there was a great need to allocate land for agricultural development to farmworkers so that they can participate effectively and meaningfully in the agricultural sector.
In her address, she pointed out the importance of land access to farmworkers for housing purposes. “Yes, issues of eviction continue to be a challenge. [But] we need to ensure that we address the security of tenure while regulating evictions.”
Didiza also cautioned that the empowerment of farmworkers goes beyond tenure security: social and economic development remains key.
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