Partnerships without proportionate participation and responsibility should rather be avoided. But if different stakeholders truly work together, South Africans can improve the economy of their country, says the newly appointed chief executive officer of Free State Agriculture (FSA).
In a blitz interview about his new position, Gernie Botha speaks to Food For Mzansi about agriculture in the Free State and the country at large. Farmers in the province have had to face many challenges such as poor roads, stock theft, violent crime, load shedding, flooding and protests that have all hampered farmers in conducting business. Yet FSA is ready to march on and to build relations with government to improve the state of the agricultural sector.
Tiisetso Manoko: What does the to-do list on your new desk entail?
Gernie Botha: Free State Agriculture acts as the mouthpiece of our members pertaining to matters that could impact on the agricultural sector. Free State Agriculture will continue to act in this capacity and lobby for a conducive environment for optimal economic growth.
[I will be] addressing some of the issues that can negatively impact our members.
What are some of your farmers’ biggest worries?
We are obviously very concerned and voiced serious concerns pertaining to road infrastructure on several platforms.
All factors which negatively impact on economic growth within the sector will be an impediment to food security. Our farmers, given the dilapidated state of road infrastructure, struggling to deliver their produce to the silos and markets remains a grave concern to us.
Suppliers to farmers face the same situation and, in some cases, they have stopped deliveries given the road conditions. This has not only affected farmers, but mobile clinics, transport to and from schools as well as policing are severely affected. This leads to farmworkers and their families being impacted negatively.
Any thoughts on South Africa having bled 23 000 jobs in the first quarter of 2022?
In as far as causes are concerned, the drastic rise in input costs will probably find application, as well as significant problems relating to road and rail infrastructure. The causes should, however, also scientifically determine to establish the effects of, for example, the national minimum wage.
What is FSA’s stance on public-private partnerships?
Public-private partnerships are of importance and Free State Agriculture welcomes initiatives that can yield positive results. Collaboration and the respective parties’ roles should, however, be clearly defined.
A situation where proportional participation and responsibilities are not part of the initiative should be avoided.
And what about transformation?
Free State Agriculture supports initiatives which are built on sound economic principles and will continue to do so.
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