REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA AT THE AFASA AGRIBUSINESS TRANSFORMATION CONFERENCE GALA DINNER AND PRESIDENTIAL AWARDS
20 August 2018
President of AFASA, Dr Vuyokazi Mahlati,
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr Senzeni Zokwana,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Leadership of AFASA,
Farmers and agribusiness leaders
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour and privilege to address this gala dinner and awards ceremony organised by the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa.
Since its formation more than seven years ago, AFASA has been shining a light on the historical challenges faced by farmers, and solely on the basis of their skin colour, were systematically placed on the margins of agriculture and agribusiness.
It is AFASA’s mission to correct that great injustice.
We are here at this gala dinner and awards ceremony to recognise and celebrate the great contribution that AFASA has made towards the transformation of the agricultural sector.
Through its lobbying and advocacy work, AFASA is helping to re-shape agriculture, bridging the divide between policy and reality, between legislation and the live experience of emerging black farmers.
In doing so, it is sending a clear message to young South Africans that there is a future in farming, that it is a part of our economy whose potential we have only just begun to explore.
Gathered here this evening are the farmers who help feed the nation.
They are essential to the economic life of rural communities.
They give us confidence that our villages and small towns can become sustainable economic centres.
At a time of rapid urbanisation, AFASA works to maintain our people’s connection with the land.
This gives us hope that in the near future, the old will know of famine only when they piece together distant memories, while the young will know of it only from reading history.
At the same time, AFASA is challenging some of the preconceptions about black farmers and changing attitudes throughout society.
It is demonstrating that black South Africans are able to make a success of owning and managing land and that they are able to farm successfully, ensure food security and sustain livelihoods.
They are redefining what is meant in South Africa by the word ‘farmer’.
And yet the ability of black farmers to work the land successfully is constrained by the accumulated disadvantages of centuries of dispossession and deprivation.
This is in addition to the challenges they face when the forces of nature and forces of the market conspire to cut production and undermine profitability.
This is the reality that we need to confront and overcome together.
The country’s land must be shared among those who wish to work it, and those who wish to work it must be given the support and encouragement to be successful.
This is necessary to correct a past wrong.
It is also necessary to ensure a fair and prosperous future for all.
We have embarked on a programme of accelerated land reform that aims to redistribute more land, at a faster pace, to black South Africans; that will ensure tenure security for the insecure; and that will change the distorted patterns of development, both in our cities and our countryside.
Not since the advent of democracy nearly 25 years ago, has our country been so engaged in a public conversation around land reform.
The proposal to use expropriation without compensation as one of the mechanisms to effect land redistribution has ignited a vigorous and welcome debate.
It has required that we confront the injustices of the past.
Now our response as government is that we need t
It means that we must expand the basket of agricultural support services available to both established and emerging farmers.
We should ensure that government uses its procurement power to open up markets for emerging farmers.
It is through our engagements with groupings like AFASA that we must define what other measures we must take to create a conducive and favourable environment for black farmers to thrive.
In all this, we are guided by the need to increase agricultural production, unlock the economic potential of our land, stimulate economic growth, create jobs and ensure food security.
Through accelerated land redistribution, and with the necessary support from the state, more and more black farmers will emerge, unlocking the economic potential both of land and of people.
We must work together as a nation to make our land reform programme a success.
This is the time for South Africans to find each other, not fight each other.
Black and white farmers must together, and working with government, build a better future not just in the agrarian economy but in society at large.
We are convinced that ensuring an equitable distribution of land is at the heart of creating a united and cohesive nation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I conclude, let me commend and congratulate all the farmers nominated for the AFASA awards.
This demonstrates the enthusiasm, innovation and tenacity that drive farmers and agribusiness people across various value chains and areas of human endeavour.
It is important, in particular, to recognise the advances made by women in farming – as landowners, farmers, farm managers, producers and suppliers of farming equipment, and as owners and managers of markets.
These awards serve a broader purpose than recognising outstanding individual contributions.
They send a powerful and compelling message about the future of farming in this country, about the confidence and capabilities of a new generation of emerging black farmers, of the long road we have travelled, and the distance we still need to go.
Through these awards, through the activities of AFASA, we are sowing the seeds of hope, of progress and of shared prosperity.
By working together, by harnessing the energies and capabilities of our people, we will be able to reap a harvest that provides nourishment and sustenance for all.
I thank you.
Issued by The Presidency, 20 August 2018