by ANNA NTABANE
WHITE RIVER, (Mpumalanga Guardian) – THE Mpumalanga Provincial Agriculture Master Plan is anticipated to spur the growth of the sector in the region and provide solutions to prevailing challenges faced by local farmers.
A gathering at a local Ingwenyama Lodge in White River, attended by the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs, stakeholders and farmers, preceded the launch of the Master Plan.
The Agriculture Master Plan will help provide a roadmap for an integrated agriculture development in the province, aiming at sustainable food security, poverty reduction and livelihood development for the poor.
It is foreseen that the scheme would drive transformation and act as a foundation for development.
“Farmers are faced with many challenges, including an already volatile, high risk and seasonally constrained production system that is compounded further by stock, produce equipment theft as well as personal and property safety and vandalism,” said Vusi Shongwe, Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs Member of the Executive Committee (MEC).
The Master Plan is further considered important in defining strategic solutions to impediments in the development of the agricultural sector.
Shongwe mentioned these to include labour legislation, unresolved land restitution and farm ownership issues as well as aging of skilled farmers.
“It is against this background that a stakeholder engagement be held in order to develop an appropriate Agricultural Master Plan that can improve the provincial economic outlook,” he continued.
With climate change and raid difficulties, farmers think the upcoming summit would assist them.
“We don’t have rain this year. It’s thus difficult for us to grow vegetables and feeds our animal,” said Esther Mhlongo, macadamia nuts and livestock farmer.