President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to address some of the challenges faced by young farmers in the Eastern Cape. This includes the lack of finance making it harder for farmers to grow their businesses.
Grain farmer Sinelizwi Fakade was one of a handful of agriculturalists who spoke to Ramaphosa on Thursday on the side of his official Youth Day address at the Mthatha Stadium in Mthatha. The president promised to return to the province to engage about the challenges, says Fakade.
“Some of the major issues I raised with the president were that [the] days are over where one cannot see the importance of robustly supporting the agriculture sector as the cornerstone of the economy.”
Fakade made a point of mentioning the financial barriers prohibiting young farmers from entering the agriculture sector – an issue, he believes, is of great concern across Mzansi. “We are young people who do not have what the financial system is looking for. We need a more robust financing approach to accommodate young people entering the agricultural sector.”
‘Our time is now’
Sharing suggestions with the president, Fakade says a better approach could be by implementing state subsidies and bank interest holidays.
“I also raised the fact that it is high time government supported people who were working in the sector and having an impact on the economy because government will get great return on this investment.
“It is vastly important that the country, industry, and politics come to terms that our time is now as young people. We must be allowed the room and the space to enter into agriculture.”
Fakade points out that mistakes were inevitable but if correct systems and a conducive business environment were in place, young farmers would thrive. While the inner workings of financial and banking systems could not be changed overnight, the sector should open up.
“What we cannot change quickly, let us not focus on that. Let us find ways within the system from the primary and secondary production and support the right people and give those who are working [well] the opportunity. Those are the people who have proven results and track records and are impacting lives.”
Government vows to remove red tape
During his Youth Day address, Ramaphosa said government remained focused on far-reaching economic reforms and creating conditions for the expansion of businesses throughout the country.
“We are intensifying our investment drive and removing the red tape that holds back business growth and greater employment creation.
“Alongside these measures, we are harnessing the capacity of the state to respond to the immediate needs of young people,” he said.
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