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Wed May 25 18:57:44 SAST 2016

Black farmers will never move forward without loans: Grain SA

Jenna Etheridge | 19 February, 2016 12:15
File photo.
Image by: Getty Images

Government needs to provide a R1 billion guarantee for emerging black farmers as part of its food security strategy, Grain SA CEO Jannie de Villiers said on Friday.

Most black farmers did not own the land they worked on and could therefore not get a loan, he told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

"Those guys are never going to move forward if they don’t get a loan of some kind. Grants help them, but they want to start to be sustainable, with a form of a soft loan and guarantee."

De Villiers said commercial farmers used their land as security for a loan. This was risky in drought conditions.

"An average grain farmer will borrow R8 million, put it in the soil and wait for the rain. That is the reality. That is the risk they take."

Grain SA had around 3,500 commercial farmers and 6,000 "new era" farmers on its database.

De Villiers said the most immediate issues for this year included affordability and ensuring there was enough food to feed the nation.

"We hope and pray that we will receive a lot of rain in March and moisture levels will increase."

More money should be spent on researching a variety of grains that were heat and drought resistant.

Grain SA had discovered that a lot of maize was wet at grassroots level, but didn’t pollinate because of too much heat.

"When it’s hot, we can just run into our homes and put on the air conditioning but the plants out there, they struggle. And it is getting hot in those big farming areas."

Source: News24

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