Following a last-minute cancellation of his meeting with farmers, President Cyril Ramaphosa has applauded the agriculture sector for its continuous growth amid the country’s economic challenges.
Ramaphosa was speaking in his capacity as the ANC president during the ruling party’s 111th birthday celebrations on Sunday, 8 January. Thousands of members and supporters flocked to the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein for the event.
Ramaphosa said the ANC was resolute to bring about equitable access to land with a focus of reversing the apartheid legacy where black people were moved from their land. The party also wanted to increase the participation of black people in agriculture.
Communal land focus
He admitted, though, that the government did not do enough to release land for this purpose despite a land hunger in both urban and rural areas from people who wanted to farm. He vowed that challenges with communal land was, however, getting the necessary attention.
“The passage for expropriation during this year will, amongst other things, add to the measures we need to take to give effect to our 54 national conference resolutions which was to enable the expropriation of land without compensation where appropriate.
“We call on our government to implement the resolutions of the communal land summit to address the tenure security in communal areas. We call on our public representatives to accelerate the passage of the land redistribution bill to enable the state to acquire the agricultural land for distribution to previously disadvantage people,” the president said.
Reducing unemployment through agriculture
Touching on economic recovery to create jobs, Ramaphosa said government was committed to supporting the agriculture sector as it had the potential of reducing poverty and unemployment.
“The ANC government will continue to support the sector by ensuring under-utilised land is brought into production and is made available to communities and historically disadvantaged individuals.
“The acceleration of the farmer support production units is a critical stepping-stone to revitalisation of the rural economy as they provide necessary farming implements and mechanisation,” he said.
Ramaphosa reiterated that with the Pesi vouchers issued during the Covid-19 pandemic, the government reached nearly 100 000 farmers who could purchase inputs during tough economic times.
“We want to continue with that because we want to support our farmers – especially the small-scale farmers and those who want to become commercial farmers.
“We have seen that when we give our people support, we are able to free thousands of hectares. This time around we were able to free 362 000 hectares where our people were able to plant, plough and produce food and feed their families.”
Ramaphosa congratulated the agriculture sector’s leaders for signing off on the agriculture and agro-processing master plan, describing it as positive social impact to see a transformed and inclusive sector.
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