Despite great excitement among government officials, agribusinesses, trade unions and the ANC about the agricultural master plan, it is getting wind against it from the farmers and the organisations representing them at grassroots level. No attempt to dampen or ignore the debate could up until now silence the voices objecting to the master plan.
Organisations with thousands of members such as TAU SA, Saai, WRSA, and NEASA, as well as various academics, scientists, opposition parties, economists, local and district agricultural unions and individual farmers, rejected the plan. They now work closely together to develop a more inclusive, market-friendly and state-friendly alternative.
The main objections to the master plan are that it lacks inclusivity, is based on the ANC’s seriously discredited transformation model, and almost nowhere refers to farmers. It is an agricultural plan without farmers.
None of the signatories could explain why input from trade unions and NGOs was requested for the master plan while no contribution was obtained from the largest farmers’ structures, employers’ organisations, industry organisations or economists.
Theo de Jager, Chairperson of Saai, says the master plan gives the impression that the ANC has created it as a transformation strategy and afterwards looked for benevolent organisations in agriculture to provide it with legitimacy.
Bennie van Zyl, General Manager of TAU SA, says that despite the sound economic principles in the plan, it is contaminated with outdated ideological principles that have only caused poverty and sadness worldwide. TAU SA was initially involved in discussions of the master plan but was left out after the organisation asked for clarity on the definition of “transformation”.
Unlike the government’s master plan, the alternative will be open to participation from individual farmers and other value chain partners. It will eventually be submitted to the signatories of the government’s master plan to determine exactly what their problem is with a more inclusive and market-friendly alternative.
Farmers can add their comments here.