Grain SA CEO Jannie de Villiers had in a briefing with the parliament portfolio on agriculture on Thursday, stated why loans are very essential to black farmers.
Speaking to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, he said it is essential for the South African government to provide R1 billion guarantee for emerging black farmers as part of its food security strategy.
According to De Villiers, as most black farmers don’t own the lands they are working on, getting a loan becomes difficult and that the country face risky drought conditions as commercial farmers used their land as security for a loan.
“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.”
“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.”
Speaking further, De Villiers provision and immediate issuance of food to feed the nation remains paramount for the sector and the department eagerly anticipate the end of drought in the country. “We hope and pray that we will receive a lot of rain in March and moisture levels will increase,” he said.
Grain SA urge the government to pump in more money into the sector so as to improve research programs basically on variety of grains that are heat and drought resistant pointing that grains maize were discovered to have 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.”
Grain SA had around 3,500 commercial farmers and 6,000 “new era” farmers on its database.
Meanwhile, the United nations had alleged that the persistent El Nino drought has left a million African children severely malnourished.
According to Unicef regional director Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, though the El Nino will in a short while wane, its effect will be severe on children and many others who barely have something to eat.
Admitting various African governments’ efforts to curtail its effect on its citizens, Pakkala said it is an unprecedented situation. “Children’s survival is dependent on action taken today.” South Africa is expected to import half its average maize crop after 2015 was declared the driest year in more than a century.