Farmers under the Black Farmers Association have accused the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of not forging ahead with its progress of land redistribution.
The association which has its base in Pietermaritzburg said the current administration in the department had taken away tractors and other basic irrigation tools that were given to the small scale farmers and co-operatives by the previous administration.
The Black farmers association represents over 200 Pietermaritzburg farmers who were given back land by government. They lament that the new administration took back the benefits given to them claiming it had a new 50:50 policy which meant that farmers had to contribute 50% of whatever money those tractors were bought with.
“But the issue here is that we were given all those facilities before that policy was signed. Another thing is, most of our members are poor and cannot afford those machines,” said Nhlanhla Shange, from the association.
Further more, the Black farmers association accused the department’s MEC Cyril Xaba of failing to fulfill promises he allegedly made to the association.
“He promised us a potato harvester when we had a meeting with him in April 2015. As I am speaking to you now, three hectares of potatoes are rotting underground; we do not have the potato harvester,” the association’s Nhlanhla Shange said.
Shange also said Xaba had promised to also give back all the equipment that was taken away from the association and had committed to meet the association. But since then the group said they were yet to hear from him neither have he relied their numerous letters sent to him. “We’ve tried to contact him for months without any success,” he said.
“This tells you that the MEC just lied to our faces. What kind of an MEC does that?” asked Sipho Dumakude, the association’s secretary who also noted that many of the association members have had piggery business plans that have been approved by the department for more than three years, but are yet to receive any aid since.
“EIAs have been done by consultants who come at high costs, but the department keeps on making us run around.
“We do not know who to turn to. We are not burning any tyres, we are just trying to have a civil conversation with the department.
Though the department’s spokesperson declined from speaking on this, BFA’s Dumakude went on to say that they are mocked by previous owners of the land because the government they had in place while they were owning these farms, invested in agriculture.