FS Agriculture under threat
16 August 2017
The agricultural sector is crucial for the maintenance of economic and social stability of the rural Free State. Our farmers and their employees work day and night to ensure food security for a growing population in our country.
While the largest portion of our country is not conducive to crop farming, our farmers manage to cultivate enough food for our country and in some instances even for export. This sector remains an above average and crucial source of employment for most of our rural population who are employed.
The agricultural sector is victim of ongoing political abuse by politicians who regard them as targets instead of national assets. Their property and livelihoods that they’ve managed to build over lifetimes with credit and hard work are often threatened with expropriation. They are also subjected to some of the most brutal acts of violence during which many farmers and their employees have lost their lives.
Added to this is the difficulty in transporting agricultural commodities to markets or accessing services due to the poor roads infrastructure. Residents of farms also struggle to access education and medical facilities as a result of closures of farm schools and the inability of rural healthcare services to access remote areas due to the poor roads infrastructure.
During the fire season local, provincial and national governments fail to provide the necessary support to Fire Protection Associations (FPA). Many fires originate from municipal land such as refuse sites and these quickly spread to agricultural land. While legislation makes provision for municipalities to be part of FPAs, only Dihlabeng is a paid up member of the local FPA.
The DA will request our parliamentary representatives to amend section seven of the National Veld and Forrest Fires Act to change “may” to “must” in order to force the Minister to render the necessary support and assistance to Both FPAs and owners of property who prepare firebreaks in terms of section 16 of the Act.
It is only fair that residents and taxpayers are supported by their local, provincial and national governments to prevent and fight disasters, especially when local governments are often directly responsible for these disasters.
Issued by Roy Jankielsohn, Leader of the Official Opposition, 16 August 2017